Hello! I’m Steph, the new Volunteer and Community Engagement Trainee, primarily based in Taunton.
It sounds cliché but, like most conservationists, I have had a love for nature and wildlife for as long as I can remember. I studied Conservation Biology and Ecology at the University of Exeter’s campus in Penryn, Cornwall, specialising in marine conservation. After this I went on to coordinate outreach activities at the university for two years, which gave me an amazing opportunity to work with lots of different schools and groups around Cornwall and organise some really fun community events.
Whilst living in Cornwall, I volunteered with educational activities run by the National Trust and Cornwall Wildlife Trust, which sparked my passion for environmental education. I think it is so important to encourage children (and adults!) to spend time outdoors exploring the world around them, so I’m really excited about getting involved with the Wildlife Watch groups and doing my Forest School training during this traineeship!
Over the next 9 months I’ll be working on some of the Trust’s community projects and events in Taunton, such as Routes to the River Tone, and will also be involved with projects on the Somerset Levels and other nature reserves around the county. Being completely new to Somerset I am looking forward to exploring new places, meeting lots of new people, and generally making the most of my time with Somerset Wildlife Trust!
May marked the half way point of my traineeship. Time is flying by, and I’m enjoying the opportunity to get involved with more and more outdoor events and activities as the weather starts to brighten.
April was an exciting month because I got to lead my first educational session with the Trust! We had been asked to lead a bug day at Queen’s College as part of a week long Zoology masterclass in half term, so feloow trainee Perdeep and I went along to run games and a bug hunt and create bug hotels. The pupils had a great time, we found plenty of creepy crawlies in the school grounds and they created some fantastic individual bug hotels as well as a large bug ‘school’. Let’s hope its providing a cosy home for lots of critters!
I’m now a third of the way through my traineeship! I can’t believe how quickly it’s going but I’m having a great time with SWT and learning so much.
February got off to a great start. When I moved to Somerset I gave myself the personal mission of seeing an otter. And on a day of practical work up at Westhay Moor Nature Reserve, less than a month into my traineeship, I was treated to my very first wild otter sighting!
For many people January is a month full of fresh starts and new beginnings- and that has certainly been the case for me!
At the start of the month, I moved from Cornwall to Taunton to start my traineeship. My first few days were a bit of a blur of information, handshakes and new names (most of which I have managed to remember!) I also had several meetings to find out more about some of the projects that I am going to be working with. It was great to hear about the work the Trust is doing and exciting to find out how I will be getting involved!