With the temperatures finally dropping and the getting shorter despite all my pleas, it is time for me to look back at the last few months of my traineeship. Things have been interesting as ever, and I have been traveling quite a bit around the country, above and beyond my beloved Central Scotland.
Summer 2k16: the beginning
At the end of June I had the opportunity to attend the Central Scotland Green Network Trust (where I am based) annual forum at the Glasgow School of Art in Garnethill (where I live). It was great to walk a few minutes up the hill and spend a full day immersed in innovative design ideas, listening to inspiring speakers, and checking out some of the Degree Show.
That same week schools closed down for the summer, and I said good bye to my budding gardeners, who by this time had reached an impressive level 3 Award from the RHS Campaign for School Gardening. The following day I spent the first day of summer in the beautiful setting of the Duddingston Gardens, helping out at the RSPB Bioblitz. It was a lovely event in a dreamy location that I definitely recommend visiting (I mean, check this out!).
The next week I was able to stay local as I attended a training course at Woodlands Community Garden. I have been involved in this West End institution ever since I initially moved to Glasgow in 2010, volunteering at their amazing Community Cafe in more recent years. The garden is simply stunning, and its community includes some of the nicest people you will meet in Glasgow. The course was super practical and I learned a lot about gardening (yet another skill I have been mostly improvising).
Summer 2k16: the middle
July was brimful of more training opportunities: first I took a ferry to Millport to spend a long week-end learning about Plants and Pollinators with the FSC (who kindly offered some of us trainees a discounted rate), and then I headed north to Findhorn for a Woodlands Activity Leader Training course with Wild Things! (who also kindly offered us a discount). In between these trainings I got to reunite with most of the other trainees in Leeds’ Skelton Grange Environment Centre for an intense day of sharing skills, stories, and burgers.
For someone without a sciency background like myself, touching a microscope for the first time since secondary school was rather exciting (and equally daunting). Over the course of four days in Millport I was bombarded (in good way!) with information about Plants and Pollinators, and got to frolic outside with nets, which is always a good time.
Our field trip to Leeds was quick but incredibly pleasant: it was great to hang out with some long lost trainees I had not seen since January. I am quite fond of our Scottish bunch, but England (and Northern Ireland and Wales) are lucky to have some really nice and passionate ecologists amongst their ranks. Everyone is doing amazing things for the environment, in so many different ways. It’s all really inspiring and I have a lot of feelings about it all.
After we left Skelton Grange fellow trainee Carolyn came to the rescue and saved myself and Lucy from Scotrail strike doom, transporting us up north to FIndhorn, where we embarked in a very intensivde week of outdoors education training. Findhorn is one of my favorite places in Scotland, so I was thrilled to spend an entire week camping there. I even got to celebrate my birthday up there! (And the sun decided to come out that very day!).
Our WALT course was very hands on and interactive: we played so many games I lost count of them, and we learned about plants and folklore and animals and fire and history and the meaning of life. Ok I am slightly exaggerating here, but you get the point: it was really informative. For our final assessment we had to prepare and deliver our own outdoors education session, and I am sad to admit I got a bit carried away with learning ALL about the meaning behind Harry Potter’s wands, and my session was a bit of a failure as a result, but I did pass the course (and learned A LOT about wands). As Dumbledore would say: mistakes are great because you can learn from them, Harry.
Summer 2k16: the end
With a new season upon us, it is time for me to announce that I will be ending my traineeship early to start a Master’s in Environment, Culture, and Communication at the University of Glasgow. I have been interested in the program since I was doing my undergrad, and with all the opportunites I was granted during my traineeship I feel more confident than ever to embark in this journey.
Despite my excitement for this next chapter, it is bittersweet to leave such an amazing group of people. As someone who didn’t know much about conservation before working for TCV, I have definitely gained a newfound appreciation for all the hard work that goes on behind maintaining and defending green spaces (and their inhabitants).
It’s not always been easy, but hard is not the same thing as bad and I am very thankful for these last seven months! Keep up the good work, Giovanna