Emily Panter was initially hesitant about her new role with the RSPB...

If you get the chance to volunteer for the community engagement internship with RSPB then do it! There has never been a better time to do something than now. 

I can honestly say it has been one of the best paths I have taken throughout my journey into conservation. Coming out of university, I had a couple of jobs here and there but nothing that I felt was quite right for me. I started to feel a bit lost, deflated and tired. 

Then in April last year Carolyn Robertson, GNaH Cardiff Project Manager, got in contact with me and told me about the volunteer internship that was coming up. I hesitantly applied thinking I would either not be accepted for the post or, that it wouldn’t be right for me again. So, when I got an interview and eventually got the news that I had been successful in gaining the place, I was very happy and excited for the future ahead, although still a little bit nervous.

The first week or so I was still trying to find my feet. Then I realised this internship with the RSPB is not like other internships, where you end up photocopying, daydreaming and clock watching (well I did do one day of photocopying but that was to help with the super swift survey project and who doesn’t want to help a good cause?!?) It is an internship where YOU choose what YOU want to do, YOU get to learn about the variety of work the RSPB do, come face to face with the team on the ground as well as directors, managers and other like-minded volunteers.

I’ve always wanted to inspire and encourage young children to go outdoors and enjoy nature, as that is what I did as a child and perhaps that is why I am so interested in saving and protecting it. This is so important right now as RSPB measured that only 21% of children aged 8-12 see themselves connected to nature. The internship gave me a perfect opportunity to do just this. So I helped on the education outreach sessions. It was a daunting thought of 30 small bright-eyed children staring up at me. But shadowing the education officers, Smitch and Kelly, gave me great examples and role models to learn from. I managed to build up the confidence and courage and even led a couple of the school sessions myself! It was very rewarding to see the children eager to give wildlife a habitat on their school grounds, or excited to talk about the slugs and snails they had found.

 The internship has given me the chance to meet a variety of communities and engage with families around Cardiff. Enabling me to connect and communicate with unique and interesting individuals, which really has strengthened my interpersonal and communication skills. Which I think is an important tool to carry through into future jobs and my personal life.

Throughout my time with RSPB I have many interesting memories; From getting lost in allotments, receiving giant cabbages, to graffitiing #wildcardiff in the centre of Cardiff whilst making seed bombs with lots of little children and Cardiffs mayor. None of which I would have thought I would be doing, but I am so glad I did.

I have had the chance to work with some inspiring, hardworking and kind individuals from RSPB and the organisations they are in partnership with; Buglife and Cardiff Council Rangers. All of which have helped me develop and learn new skills.