Coming into the final straight of this year long traineeship, I’ve suddenly become aware of all the things I set out to do that I haven’t yet done! January was a crazy busy month of tying up loose ends and getting around to all those exciting things I’ve been meaning to do.
Our Marvellous Mud Snails project is really getting off the ground again, with the schools being back after Christmas. We went back to an original school, Deerpark Primary to find out how they had been getting on, plus made a stop off in a snowy wonderland at Castle Campbell in Dollar Glen to scout out a potential release site for our captive bred snails.
The first new session of the year was a visit to Bridgend Primary School in West Lothian, out first school in this area where we met a mixed Primary 5/6 class.
To give the kids a great introduction to the underwater world of pond invertebrates we set up activity stations at each of the class tables and had groups move around every 10 minutes or so. This worked really well and we got to try out some new activities. It can be hard thinking up ideas for education sessions but over the course of the past year I’ve found this is something that I can do quite well. I’ve always liked trying to interpret conservation projects and messages for different age groups and that great feeling when a class or community group go away with new enthusiasm for a particular species or part of the landscape.
CIEEM Conference Aberdeen
A highlight was attending my first conference as a student member of the Chartered Institute Of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM). The day-long conference was in Aberdeen and focused on the wildlife tourism industry in Scotland. There were some excellent talks, none too similar to each other which offered an insight into different aspects of the industry. How do you consider the wildlife challenges when dualling a road as busy as the A9? How do you prevent keen walkers/cyclists and mountain bikers from entering vital Capercailile breeding territory with only a sign on a fencepost to help?
The day really gave me a few ideas on areas of work which I might want to work in after the traineeship is over and it was especially helpful to chat over lunch with some mentors for the student attendees who gave a bit of perspective.
Falkirk site visit and survey
Last year we made exciting progress on our official site surveys for the seven current locations of the Pond mud snail. With our new trainee Joanna having started a few weeks ago, this was a great chance to get back out and demonstrate the survey in full detail.
We picked out more recently discovered site in Falkirk (where the Pond mud snail had not been seen for 100 years) and completed a thorough survey of the pond area and the abundance of mud snails present. We will use this information in the final habitat management reports at the end of this two year project. I will also be creating a guide to surveying for Pond mud snails as part of our training programme.
STEM Ambassador induction
One of the exciting things, which I had been meaning to get under my belt last year, was signing up to become a STEM Ambassador. I was invited to an induction day at Glasgow University for a welcome session and to be taken through what commitment is expected from Ambassadors. After being cleared for disclosure I’ll be able run events, workshops and attend speed networking events throughout the country and maybe even head back to my old high school!
For me I’d like to inspire the younger generation in aspects of science they maybe not have considered and I think it’s important to consider all interests and talents and how these can be incorporated into career roles later on in life….Just like the way I’m aiming to take things I’ve learned from a creative and performing background into nature conservation work.
Woodland management course
To finish off a busy month I attended the TCV Scotland training course on Woodland Management. This helped me understand more about native Scottish woodland and aspects of practical conservation which I have come across on TCV volunteer days.
I would like to be more hands-on with the maintenance of woodland habitat and understand the benefits proper upkeep (or the lack of it) can bring. It was great to see different perspectives from managing a forestry plantation to creating a wildlife haven by letting nature take it’s course, to creating a healthy forest for recreational use.