Hello! It has been an amazing month! My name is David I have just started as a natural network trainee with TCV and the fun has just not stopped throughout the month. I work in conjunction with a conservation charity called Buglife; their aim is to protect invertebrates. This is done through a program of spreading knowledge, pressuring politicians to help preserve them and maintaining local habitats that are beneficial to invertebrates.
My jobs remit is to network with the local community in North Lanarkshire and set up nature walks based around invertebrates. I have successfully managed to book 13 schools over this area to participate in my nature walks. This proved a learning experience at first as there was not a big uptake initially. However having now shown groups what I intent to do and changing my tact I have come to an understanding with these groups and now I cannot wait to get started on these walks in May with them. They will be very exciting and the fact that it will improve local knowledge and add to local records will be amazing.
Contacting these groups has meant that most of my time has been spent initially at the office but now that the weather is improving I am also getting out and about in the community. We spotted our first bee of the season as well! It was an early bumblebee out to take advantage of the first flowers of spring encroaching upon the land. We absolutely lost our minds when we saw it. I have also been able to get out and help with scrub clearance and meadow creation at a local Buglife volunteer days in Bo’ness. I met with members of the community and discussed the rich history of Bo’ness and how we hoped to improve the meadow by clearing litter and removing young tree saplings and broom shrub that threaten to take it over.
I have also recently spent my first days in the class room spreading the word about invertebrates. I met a Prince’s Trust group in Greenfaulds academy in Cumbernauld where me and my colleague discussed what our roles where and how to survey wildlife. The pupils where enamoured with our nets and found using them in the field great fun. It was a lovely bright day but alas we did not find anything. It was still too cold and the recent snow would not have helped either.
I have just got back from teaching the most excitable group of primary two students ever about bees. This was at St Monica’s primary in Coatbridge. The pupils where very knowledgeable and we had great fun drawing bees and discussing their body parts which they adored. We also talked about pollination and how important it is for food and the environment. I also showed them my bee dance, which blew their minds. In the end we had a quiz and the kids got all the answers right with many pledging to go away and ask their parents to plant more flowers in their gardens. At the end of this presentation I felt ecstatic about getting the kids up to speed with the amazing stories in their back garden and also being able to use the props I brought along (I knew I would find a use for plastic flowers in my life and that was throwing them about a classroom).
I have also had the opportunity to go to courses that I have found very interesting and to meet new people. I attended a “leading and engaging communities” course that really helped me to pinpoint what I need to do to successfully target key demographics in my local area. It also allowed me to hear the inspiring story about the Alva glen community trust. This trust has managed to totally renovate their glen and bring back the “Alva illuminations” after a 50 year absence. It looked stunning and reminded me of the areas in my own projects that I need to tweak or target to get the best out of my groups of volunteers.
I also attended an Opal course that showed how to bring citizen science to the masses. It was a lot of fun and rehashed certain survey techniques in mind that I had difficulty with. I now hope to bring forward these areas into my bug walks.
I have also recently been helping Kildrum Primary School in Cumbernauld with their garden. We have been deciding what cool stuff that they should put in it. I gave a small talk about the cool pollinators they should be attracting and also what tasty treats that they could be growing like raspberries and borrage! It was so exciting and the pupils had a great time drawing their garden plans with the flowers they wanted. This is a project that is currently developing. Watch this space….
All through the past month I have been aware that invertebrates are relatively dormant at the moment. There are now, however, some signs of life and I can feel a sense of momentum building in my traineeship. There are exciting things which I can see just ahead. There is a massive community workshop happening on the 19th of March which I cannot wait to help with. Then there is my colleagues “John Muir pollinator way” week where we will be spreading the word about Buglife, conducting planting events and holding bug walks right across Scotland – all in one week. It will be tiring but the opportunity to help so many people get pleasure out of invertebrates like I do; showing that they run the world is an opportunity I cannot afford to miss. Then there are my bug walks (most of which will be in May) that I am most looking forward to. These walks will be a lot of fun and I feel I am ready to take on the challenge.