Somerset Wildlife Trust

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Wildlife Skills Trainee Scheme

Wildlife Skills is a scheme funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund in conjunction with Somerset, Devon, Dorset and Wiltshire Wildlife Trusts to each provide four Trainees of any age or background, the opportunity to gain paid full time, real world experience and specialist training  for a year. Ensuring the next generation of environmental decision makers are well equipped for the challenges of the future. Read More.

SWT Trainees 2015

Meet the trainees:

Ralph Connolly

Ralph Connolly

Practical Conservation Trainee 

Based at Bradford on Tone, near Taunton.

To get to know Ralph, click here.

Leighann Briggs

Leighann Briggs

Practical Conservation Trainee

Based at Chancellor's Farm, near Cheddar.

To get to know Leighann, click here. 

Abigail Rose

Abigail Rose

Volunteer and Community Engagement Trainee 

Based at Callow Rock offices.

To get to know Abi, click here.

Becky Falkingham

Becky Falkingham

Survey and Monitoring Trainee 

Based at Taunton HQ.

To get to know Becky, click here.

Chris Couldrey ​- 2014 Survey and Monitoring Trainee

Although Chris began his traineeship last year, the surveying position is 18 months long and so it will not be completed until December. So he will spend the following months putting all the skills he has learnt throughout the first year in practice during the busy survey season.

To get to know Chris, click here.

Last year's trainees:

SWT Trainees 2014 recropped for banner credit Claire Critchley

The first year of trainees have now completed their traineeships and have flown the nest!

Read below for some handy fact files about each of them, and to see what they are up to now.


Beth Aucott - Practical Conservation Trainee

"I am currently an Assistant Ranger for the National Trust working on Studland Beach, Dorset. It's a seasonal role, so only for the summer, but I am gaining new experiences and rounding out my CV. I will be getting stuck back into the practical conservation work and utilising the skills I learnt as a trainee come September when I will be moving to be an Assistant Ranger on Dunstable Downs in Bedfordshire. The team there are working on some exciting chalk grassland restoration work, which I can't wait to get involved with. The site also offers some stunning views of the surrounding countryside, though obviously not quite as good as those from on Mendip!"

Claire Critchley - Volunteer and Community Engagement Trainee

"I am now working for the RSPB as a Learning and Visitor Experience Officer. It is the perfect job for me. I teach school and youth groups on a daily basis and run events and the visitor centre when I am not out teaching. In the long term I want to stay where I am because have high hopes and big plans for the Ribble Discovery Centre some of which may take a couple of years and funding bids to bring to fruition. Undoubtedly I could not do my current job without all the skills and experience I gained in my Traineeship. The lasting legacy for me though is the friendships I have made and it is something that continues to help in my current role."

Olivia Dullaghan - Practical Conservation Trainee

"I have just finished up with the Trust after what has been a fantastic year full of learning and laughter. I have gained a huge amount including practical experience, qualifications, I.D skills and a much better understanding of landscape scale conservation. I have made some fantastic new friends who really made this experience what it was. The staff and volunteers I have worked with have been inspiring with their passion for nature and dedication to conservation. Moving forward I am hoping to work in a ranger role and feel very positive about my future career in conservation."


Here they all are talking about the highlights of the year:





Exciting news this month - Abi, the Community Engagement trainee, has found a new job! Read her update this month for more information on what she is moving on to doing. This month wee also report on the Somerset residential held near Cheddar, we go searching for newts, and we have a staff trip to see how Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust manage a few of their reserves.

This month we got together for the booming bitterns survey on the levels, and most of us have been Adder survey trained! Abi has been dry stone walling and pond dipping, Ralph joined Devon Wildlife Trust on their reserves for a week or two, Becky finally found some Marsh Fritillary caterpillars and Leighann joined Abi with leading some school groups.

We're well into the swing of our roles now! In the past month, Ralph passed his chainsaw felling assessment (well done!), Abi has been teaching schoolkids about meadows, Leighann has been busy clearing invasive Rhododendron and honing her hedgelaying and dry stone walling skills and Becky has got stuck in to some surveying of Brown Hairstreak eggs and veteran trees, with Ralph assisting. To find out more in depth, keep reading...

Frosty Mornings on the third residential in Wiltshire, maintaining infrastructure on the reserves , planning ahead for the summer, project managing, photoshoots and more... Familiar jobs and some new ones as we start the New Year, read on...


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