Wednesday 3rd September at East Quantoxhead Village Hall
Our annual volunteer conference was held in West Somerset this year. We pre-empted our conference with a ramble to the foreshore at East Quantoxhead to explore the varied seaweeds that are present on the beach, take in the strata exposed on the wave cut platform and cliffs and spot fossils. Nigel Phillips, SWT’s Living Seas Ambassador led the walk and shared his enthusiasm and knowledge of this part of the coast.
The walk provided useful context to the discussions and talks we had in the main conference which focussed on the progress we have made in our 50th year. Simon Nash kicked us off with a rounded view of how the year has gone followed by Michele Bowe, Rosie Winch and Nick Tomlinson who all provided an insight into their work on coasts, meadows and a new living landscape programme in Taunton. We shared some volunteer highlights of the year, provided by staff an amazing ly positive affirmation of the impact volunteers have on our ability to ‘Love Somerset, Love Nature’.
Discussions this year were all focussed on our need to make more of our reserves and were contextualised by Tim Youngs on the work staff have been doing through the Visitor Management group. There was very broad agreement that we could be braver with our estate and some lovely examples provided by volunteers on how this might be achieved. All the suggestions were captured and will be fed into the groups.
The SWT trainees had an opportunity to introduce themselves which we hope will encourage volunteers from across the Trust to share their knowledge, activities and enthusiasm with all four as they embark on their conservation careers.
All this was rounded off with some local foraged fare that provided staff an ideal opportunity to talk to a wide range of volunteers many of whom we meet up with only rarely and of course an opportunity for volunteers to all talk together too! There are some lovely wildlife stories shared at these events.
The feedback we have had has been very positive. We undertook two evaluation exercises on the day, the suggestions made for improving the volunteering experience have been collated and will be worked on by the community and outreach team. 100% of volunteers attending would recommend volunteering for SWT to a friend great!
Thanks to all that attended and contributed to the positive atmosphere on the day.
If you have any questions or comments about the volunteer conference please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.