A new training programme ‘Wildlife Skills’ has been awarded £829,200 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), allowing four Wildlife Trusts in the South West to train 46 aspiring conservationists over the next three years.
The scheme is designed to address the skills shortages within the South West conservation sector, and has already appointed 16 trainees based at Devon Wildlife Trust, Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, Somerset Wildlife Trust and Dorset Wildlife Trust. Each will focus on one of three areas; practical conservation, survey & monitoring or volunteer and community engagement. As well as gaining formal qualifications, the trainees will receive complementary training in transferable skills to enhance their future employability and consolidate their learning by working with Wildlife Trust staff.
‘Wildlife Skills’ Coordinator, Dr Rachel Janes, said: “This new scheme will give those interested in wildlife a real insight into working in conservation, from learning about communications in the media, to gaining their chainsaw qualifications. After they have completed their year-long placement, trainees will have the skills and confidence to take their careers forward in the work place. The wildlife trusts involved are delighted to be part of this programme, and are grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund, which has helped make it happen.”
Luke Workman, Wildlife Skills volunteer & engagement trainee based at Devon Wildlife Trust said : “A special moment for me was introducing a rockpool crab to a child for the first time, it was great to see the fear of holding the creature be replaced with a fascination and excitement for wildlife. I realised that some of the animals I take for granted, other people have never encountered before. What a privilege it is to be the first person to help this little girl meet a crab for the first time!”
Beth Aucott, Wildlife Skills practical conservation trainee based at Somerset Wildlife Trust said: “The most exciting thing for me so far, apart from seeing my first wild otter, has been working with the people who are so passionate about looking after wildlife. I have already learnt so much; I've improved my identification skills, honed and learnt new practical skills, such as brushcutting, and learnt about grants, working with graziers and management plans.”
The scheme aims to diversify the future of conservation by providing opportunities for those from disadvantaged backgrounds, particularly young people and those in transitional phases of their lives and careers. New placements will be available in summer 2015. For more information about the training scheme please visit this page.
Photo credits from the top: © Rachel Janes, Beth Aucott and Brian Bleese.
Beth and Olivia get strimming
Brownsea Island trip