Hello there, my name is Melissa Laubi, and I have been granted the pleasure of working with The Conservation Volunteers for the last four weeks of my time in Scotland. Coming over from the states for my internship, I didn’t know what to expect. I wanted anything but being the offices new designated coffee girl, and as soon as I arrived on the premises of the TCV’s Stirling location I was sure that my wish had come true.
I was greeted with warm smiles and welcoming words from the moment I walked through the doors of Ballalan house at their Stirling offices. From that moment on, the experience has been nothing short of a dream. I’ve found that although the “big picture” is to better the planet and all of its inhabitants, the only way to get to this goal is to do so through small, meaningful acts. Whether it be clearing invasive plant species, educating the youth, or simply composting the waste from the local garden, it is the small building blocks that will bring us closer to the future we envision.
My first day out in the field if you will, was spent by the river just offshore Loch Lomond. It was here that we were removing the overruling Himalayan Balsams that seemed to invade every nook and cranny they could find. I’ll be honest, at first I could only think of the dreaded task of weeding the gardens back home, but I quickly found that the way TCV does things makes a task like this quite enjoyable. The people I was surrounded by on that day were simply a pleasure to be around; their energy was contagious and inspiring. With that being said, this day at “work” felt like a day at the park.
We were also on the lookout for butterflies to add to our butterfly count. In total, we found four different types of butterflies along with an osprey, some frogs, and you can’t forget about the sheep and cattle of course. This was the day it became more apparent than ever to me that conservation is so much more than recycling, planting trees, and finding sustainable energy sources; first and foremost it’s about coming together. Only once we all have a common goal can we reach the top of the mountain that we are trying to climb.
SENSE Events (Cumbernauld Community Park and Lochmore Meadows)
Over the past two weeks, I have been given the pleasure of attending two TCV events sponsored by SENSE Scotland. The Sense Scotland organization is a charity designed to support the families of children with disabilities. Although quite different in nature, both events have been equally rewarding experiences.
What a wonderful sight it was to see such a strong sense of community between the children, their families, and Sense Scotland employees and volunteers. It certainly made being an “outsider” to the experience so much easier to jump right in.
TCV was responsible for holding activities to suited for the variety of children that would be attending the events. We were adamant to ensure that all of the kids not only left having learned something about the nature that surrounds them on a daily basis, but also that they left with a smile. We had a “bug tent” to teach the kids about different types of pond bugs, butterflies, dragonflies, and moths found in the area by providing live specimen as well as giving them an opportunity to go out into the park and capture their own critters with tools supplied by TCV. We also held an arts and crafts section with loads of different activities for the kids to engage in some nature inspired fun. To see the kids having just as much fun playing with arts and crafts as they did at the bug tent was so rewarding, and a firm confirmation that learning about the nature surrounding them can indeed be a good time!