I am now working my way into the last two months of my traineeship and what an experience it has been so far. I started out with no previous practical conservation experience, but as someone who loves nature, with a true passion for spending my time outdoors and supporting wildlife. Fast forward to today and I have gained valuable skills and training that will help me kickstart my career in nature conservation.
I’ve had my ups and downs, during the first few months of the traineeship my body was feeling the physical hard work out on the reserves. There were times where I doubted myself, with that voice in my head telling me ‘I can’t do this’. However, I never gave up and with the help of the team, I got through those moments of self-doubt. Fast forward to today, I have achieved dry stone walling, step building, boardwalk building, scrub clearance, post and wire fencing and so much more. I’m proud of myself for carrying on and gaining much more confidence than ever before.
I’ve worked on some truly beautiful nature reserves around Derbyshire, with Lea Wood being a number one favourite of mine. It’s a place I’ve connected with throughout this traineeship. I’ve gotten to know its semi-natural ancient woodland, the history of the Nightingales that runs through the woods, and had my fair share of great wildlife encounters including pied flycatchers, a fox out in daylight, and great spotted woodpeckers feeding their young. I’ve seen the woodland transform during three seasons, with fabulous fungi trailing the woodland in winter, a sea of bluebells during spring, and the wildflowers blooming in the meadow this summer. I can’t wait to see Lea Wood ablaze with autumn colours, with its trees dressed in shades of oranges, reds, and yellows.
I’ve been very grateful to have the opportunity to work on the Aqueduct Cottage project, assisting volunteers with the restoration of the cottage situated in Lea Wood, beside the Cromford Canal. I remember my first visit to Aqueduct Cottage a few weeks into my traineeship when the cottage was yet to be fitted with a roof, windows boarded up and steps to the side of the garden were half complete. I helped with building a few of the steps, shifted large amounts of earth and built stone walls to the side of the steps. Fast forward to today and the cottage is almost complete and I have been assisting with the planning of the garden. I look forward to when the garden is blooming and the cottage is open for the public to explore.
Recently I have been learning how to build post and wire fences for the first time. I had a great two days working in the Peak District with my fellow trainees and we were taught how to build a fence from scratch. I put my new skills to the test at Woodside Farm, where I have been helping a team of staff and volunteers build a stock fence around one of the fields. I learnt how to construct a box strainer, how to use monkey strainers to tension the wire and netting and was able to see the tractor-mounted post driver in action!
With two months left, I am looking forward to the next steps of my traineeship with Derbyshire Wildlife Trust. If you’re over 18 and looking to gain a career in conservation and have a passion for nature, registration is now open for an online information session running for the Working for Nature Traineeship. To find out more, click here to visit the Working for Nature section on the website.