Hi, My name is Matt, and I’m a TCV Natural Networks trainee based in Kent down in the South East of England.
This is my first blog as a natural networks trainee, actually it’s my first blog ever… so I shall begin at the beginning.
I work in Kent; it’s where I live, and where I was born and grew up, and I love it here. Contrary to some people’s ideas, Kent is not actually just a bit of London, it’s a great big, green, wooded and diverse county, with some amazing landscapes and habitats, some of which you’d struggle to find in many other places in the world.
As a kid I spent hours watching nature documentaries, and running around the fields and woods of my village looking for lions. I never found any lions, but I did discover a passion for the British countryside that led me to study it at university for 5 years, firstly doing a countryside management degree, followed by a wildlife conservation degree.
Alongside (and after) this I went out volunteering, once a week with a local group doing practical conservation and habitat management in and around Ashford, my local town, (where now I work). After several years volunteering, I was the one taking the volunteers out on tasks, and I started to really value helping others to enjoy and improve their local wild sites and green spaces.
At about this point in the story, I got this job with TCV, working again in my local town (Ashford), and with a focus of engaging with the local communities to help them explore, value and take ownership of their local green spaces, Great! My office is pretty special too…
The TCV team based at Singleton Environment Centre have been working on a 5 year project called the Kent Heritage Trees Project, which over its time has planted 27,000 trees and recorded over 10,000 heritage trees within Kent. The team itself has been fantastic, very welcoming, and have given me no end of help in my first few months, so a thank you to them is very much in order!
So here I am, three months in, what have I been up to? The answer to that is all sorts, initially I got stuck into whatever was going on in the office that looked interesting and new, so I have visited schools to help design wildlife gardens, I have planted trees with local councillors, and gone out with many different groups carrying out conservation work in and around Ashford (and further afield).
Alongside this I have gone on a range of training courses to improve my knowledge of subjects as diverse as amphibian monitoring (with some fellow trainees!), tree planting, bid writing and project leadership.
Back in the office one of my main focuses has been on supporting local ‘friends of’ groups, helping them seeks funding, plan events, and work together as well as in the setting up a group for the Centre in which I work, an ongoing process.
Well that’s enough for now, it’s been an exciting first three months, and I expect the next three to be likewise, Thanks for reading, Cheers.