A trustee may not be the first thing you think of when picturing a volunteer, but they play an extremely important role in the running of an organisation. At the RSPB we have a Council of up to 18 trustees who decide how the organisation is run. Council has overall control and one of their main jobs is making sure that the organisation is doing what it was set up to do. Here Kerry ten Kate explains why she decided to volunteer on the RSPB council.


 As someone who has built a career in conservation because of a lifelong passion and conviction of the urgency of environmental issues, volunteering as a Council member struck me as a fabulous opportunity. I did wonder about choosing the RSPB for my voluntary efforts as the existing Council comprises an excellent set of experts and management are very competent, so the organisation is already in safe hands.  I debated whether I could make a difference through this role, but there's so much to do! It's so urgent and vital to make progress now, that it made sense to join and throw in my lot with the team.

The IPCC tells us that everyone together must make a vast effort to reduce our environmental impacts and secure conservation outcomes in the next 10-12 years before we are too late. The IPCC has shown that global warming of 1.5°C or more would lead to the inevitable loss of some ecosystems. Other recent reports such as the 2016 State of Nature report, the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Global Biodiversity Outlook, the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report and many other authoritative reports equally point to the urgency of the situation, not only for maintaining an equable climate but also protecting the incredible richness of habitats and species and all the services they provide.

Big decisions for nature

As we need to make a big difference sooner rather than later, I am excited by the existing breadth and accomplishment of RSPB’s work. I feel confident about the leadership and professional engine behind the organisation and reassured that our work as Council members will help the organisation make some strategic decisions to guide RSPB’s work for the coming critical years.

My hopes are that - together - we can do a number of things and come up with workable solutions on some challenging and complex issues that require nuanced responses. For example: encouraging wind power in the right places without loss of important bird populations or spoiling people's enjoyment of the outdoors; and supporting government and businesses in converting their planning of development to avoid impacts on irreplaceable habitats and species so we can show a measurable 'biodiversity net gain'. We also need to come up with exciting new ways of growing the family of RSPB members, especially young people. I believe that they will help the organization adapt to the incredible changes that are coming our way in the coming decades.

Kerry ten Kate


I hope you enjoyed our little prequel to the volunteers’ week festivities, the event begins in earnest tomorrow. See you then!

For more content check back daily throughout the week on the community pages and the celebrating our volunteers page.

Interested in getting involved? You can find opportunities here.

Got a volunteering query? Contact the volunteers team at volunteers@rspb.org.uk

Find more about National Volunteers’ week