I can’t believe I am writing my last blog post – where did those two years go?! As excited as I am to be moving to university tomorrow, I really, really wish I didn’t have to leave and could become a permanent apprentice here (although I’m not sure I would still be saying that in 20 years’ time!). I have loved every aspect of my job here, even the days stood feeding endless County Wildlife Sites records into the scanner, and I would quite happily do it all over again.
I have learned so much about the conservation sector, working for an NGO, peat bog ecology and restoration, bird ID, botany, hay meadows, the big blue wobbly thing (the sea), public speaking, recruitment, volunteers, partnership working, conservation issues and making tea, but I have also learned a lot about what I enjoy most, what my career aspirations are and what makes me happy, and I am a completely different person to the one that walked through the door of Plumgarths two years ago. The education system left me under-confident, under pressure and unhappy, but being in a work environment with people I like, doing a job I enjoy and am good at has given me back my confidence, helped me grow in maturity and become the happiest I have ever been. I am sure that being able to get outdoors so much and connect with nature in a way I have never had the opportunity to before has also had a big part to play in this, and it is definitely no coincidence.
Cumbria Wildlife Trust have helped me to build the foundations of a career, and the experiences they have given me will be invaluable in shaping and developing the rest of it. I am excited about what my future holds, and without this apprenticeship I would, instead, have been daunted by it. I am proud of the work I have done to protect Cumbria’s wildlife and of the things I have achieved in my time here, and I am grateful to every single person who I have worked with and who has answered my questions, pointed out plants and birds and mosses and taught me new things. My eyes have been opened to a whole host of conservation issues that need tackling and it has made me even keener to be one of the people working towards overcoming them.
I hope that the three years I have ahead of me at Bangor University will be as fulfilling, interesting and enjoyable as the last two have been, and I am looking forward to indulging myself in learning. Perhaps one day I will return to Cumbria Wildlife Trust as a fully-fledged conservationist and post blogs again, but for now you can follow me on Twitter to see how I’m getting on – it’s @kcartmelldone (shameless self-promotion, I know!).
Thank you to everyone at Cumbria Wildlife Trust and Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust for the experience of a lifetime, and to everyone who has been reading my blogs for taking an interest – I don’t think I will ever be able to express quite how grateful I am or how much I have enjoyed myself! I leave you in the very capable hands of the two new Apprentice Conservation Officers who will be taking over the reins, Isaac and Siân, and I hope they have just as much fun as I have.
Goodbye for now,
Kate Cartmell-Done was Apprentice Conservation Officer with Cumbria Wildlife trust from 2014 to September 2016