David Meechan gives the thumbs-up to long-term volunteering. For some people this is a step towards full time employment in the environmental sector. It’s a move that seems to have paid off for 24 year old David who has recently finished a stint as a volunteer with The Conservation Volunteers in Glasgow. Here, David sums up his volunteering experience and what it has led to:
I’ve been volunteering with TCV Glasgow since April 2013 and have been a Conservation Volunteer Leader (CVL) since June 2013. And between October 2013 and March 2014 I was part of TCV’s Get Some Credit training programme.
I was initially directed by a careers advisor at university to www.prospectus.ac.uk as a way of looking for organisations that offer volunteering opportunities for a career in environmental conservation, and that’s how I found out about TCV. TCV seemed to tick all the boxes I was looking for – an organisation I could learn and thrive with in the outdoors whilst helping various groups on practical conservation tasks. TCV is at the forefront of conservation and has a healthy balance of practical biodiversity work as well as wildlife recording in various areas around Glasgow.
It was almost effortless starting with TCV due to the warm, friendly nature of the staff and the other volunteers. I have had a great time with TCV ever since day one and do not see that changing any time soon.
As a Conservation Volunteer Leader I’ve taken part in various biodiversity projects with Glasgow City Council, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Scottish Natural Heritage, Froglife and local allotments and councils. I’ve worked with community groups including Shettleston Community Growing Project and Urban Roots, as well as some ‘Friends of’ groups, and I’ve worked on various school projects building wildlife gardens. I’ve helped organise technical tasks with up to 10 volunteers – path building, wood clearance, fence building etc, and I’ve co-led an Employability Award in outdoor learning for a group of 14–17 year olds. I’ve led some Green Gym sessions at community gardens and Gleniffer Braes in Paisley, and I‘ve also worked with kids on the Discover Me programme which involves child-led play in nature settings. On the promotional side of things I’ve represented TCV at a college volunteer fair and other events and I’ve blogged about the practical tasks undertaken by TCV Glasgow. I also gave a presentation of my experience working with volunteers for TCV at Get Out and Grow – a taster event for organisations looking to expand into outdoor education for kids of various backgrounds and ages.
I’ve learned many new skills and I’ve participated in many training courses, both within TCV and externally, everything from drystane dyking and woodland management, to fundraising and health and safety. The entire experience has certainly made me more employable as I’ve just started a new role as a TCV Natural Networks Trainee in North Ayrshire. I will be working on various green spaces in North Ayrshire, in partnership with RSPB, SWT and North Ayrshire Council. I will be engaging communities across the area to try and get the best use out of local green space for the benefit of biodiversity and the local people.
I would strongly recommend volunteering with TCV to anyone who is contemplating a career in environmental conservation. I don’t think any other organisation offers as much variety when it comes to projects – from biodiversity work, wildlife surveying, or technical building projects. On the other hand if people just want to volunteer for a good experience I would also highly recommend TCV for the variety that it offers and the experience you can gain. People genuinely have a fun time when volunteering because we are all like-minded environmentalists who enjoy working in the outdoors, come rain or shine. To sum up I would say that my time with TCV has been very enlightening. I have met some inspirational people who have in turn inspired me to be the best I can when it comes to being a leader. I have gained so much experience and training that I would be lost without it. I would say that most of all it has been one of the most enjoyable times of my life.
David is speaking about his volunteering experience next week at a free event in Glasgow discussing long-term environmental volunteering as a means for people to grow their confidence, skills and employability. Details at: