My placement so far by Jess Cowburn

Hay meadows at Eycott Hill Nature Reserve 

My name is Jess Cowburn and I’m the northern reserve placement student. For as long as I can remember I’ve preferred animals to people, so for me a job involving animals would be ideal. When the opportunity came up to spend my university placement in Cumbria I was over the moon.

The experience so far has been amazing and already I feel like I’ve learned lots, even if I have got a little wet and muddy along the way.  So yeah, that’s me. Hopefully this blog will help you feel inspired to engage with nature more.

Thursday 6th June: Boardwalk on the Bog

I helped with an ongoing project to build a boardwalk across Drumburgh Moss, a lowland raised peat bog. This site is classified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), National Nature Reserve (NNR), and Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and is extremely difficult to stand in without falling over.

Tuesday 11th June: Getting Bogged Down

We continued our work on the boardwalk at Drumbrugh Moss; this was a lot of fun, until I fell whilst helping to move a plank and basically ended up sitting in the bog. Afterwards Kevin taught me how to use the strimmer and I helped clear one of the footpaths on the site.

Wednesday 12th June: My Badge of Honour

The plan was to go to Eycott Hill, an upland nature reserve run by my line manager Imogen, and help with rehearsals for an upcoming project with the local schools but the weather was terrible. So instead I helped out for the performance by making badges to help make sure the children's parents are in the right place during the production. However, this was easier said than done as the badge machine didn’t appear to like me.

Thursday 13th June: Why did I pick a placement in Cumbria?

Today Imogen, Nichola and I spent the whole day at Eycott Hill, making preparations for the performance and giving a guided talk to some dedicated members. However, it was extremely cold and lashed it down with rain all day, so that was fun.

Tuesday 18th June: The Set-up

We began to make preparations for the culmination of a 4-year project between Cumbria Wildlife Trust and Prism Arts, in order to help engage children, and adults with learning disabilities, with nature. The idea was for five different primary schools to each put on their own play inspired by the nature reserve Eycott Hill, on the reserve itself. The children had created art inspired by the site, so we set up an art gallery to help display it, which with 4 years’ worth of art is easier said than done. 

http://www.prismarts.org.uk/projects/cumbria-wildlife-trust-and-eycott-hill/

Wednesday 19th June: The Rehearsal

The children were allowed to practice their plays on site, and I was assigned the role of steward. The performance was a promenade style, where the audience had to move around to watch the different plays. The audience was split into several different groups to make sure that the children don’t get overwhelmed by the large number of attendees. My job was to make sure that the different audiences didn’t accidentally cross paths with each other whilst moving around (I was also dressed as a ladybird).

Thursday 20th June: Showtime

Today was the big day, and everything went really well. All the children and adults had a wonderful time. Everybody involved was incredibly proud when it was finished (especially Jody, who was the project manager) and we even saw a triple rainbow at the end.

Find out more about The Hill of Dreams outdoor theatre performance https://www.cumbriawildlifetrust.org.uk/news/nature-reserve-transformed-outdoor-theatre-performance

I hope you've enjoyed reading what I've been up to, I look forward to what the next few months has to offer! 

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Work at Eycott Hill Nature Reserve is possible thanks to National Lottery Players, and support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.