With it being #NationalVolunteersWeek we thought we would catch up with one of ours to see what it's like to be part of the team here at RSPB Arne. We chatted to Samuel, one of our Visitor Experience team members, about his time as a residential volunteer and now a working-from-home volunteer as well as some of his favourite moments at RSPB Arne...

Quick introductions, tell us about yourself and how long you’ve been at RSPB Arne

Hello! My name is Samuel, born and bred in Dorset - that might tell you a bit too much about myself - and I'm a pretty big fan of conservation... and a good cup of tea. I actually grew up just down the road from RSPB Arne which I think kicked off my conservation passion. This led me to studying Zoology at university, onto working with albatross and penguins in New Zealand and now I am back in the UK where it all began. I started at RSPB Arne as a residential volunteer in July 2019, however, understandably due to the recent situation these placements have been cancelled. I am very lucky to still live just around the corner so i’m sticking around a little longer!

What is your favourite thing to see at RSPB Arne at the moment?

Hmm, for me it’s got to be nightjars hasn’t it?! I love how bizarrely beautiful they are, if not slightly eerie if you don’t know what is making that ‘churring’ call. They’ve had a pretty tough time; being blamed for mysterious goat deaths - hence once being called “Goat Suckers” - and towards the end of the 20th century their population in the UK wasn't looking so good either, declining 50% in just 20 years. Thankfully, It’s a different story now and RSPB Arne is a fantastic place to find them (if you can stand the midges).

So, why volunteer?

This is a question I often get asked. For me it’s an amazing way to meet like minded people and gain experience for what is quite a competitive field. I’ve never felt it as a way of giving up my time for free, it’s something I've always been keen to do. It means I can be involved in projects that otherwise wouldn’t be able to fund an additional member of staff, for example I’m currently involved in the RSPB Chesil Beach Little Tern Project, in Weymouth, which is an exciting project aiming to establish a successful colony of little terns! These types of projects need support and by helping them, we can hopefully better the survival of some special and endangered species.

Do you have any memorable encounters at RSPB Arne?

There’s been a few for sure, there is one that springs to mind though. We often get people visiting, questioning whether we actually have some of our infamous reptiles, like sand or common lizards, as they can be tricky to find out in the reserve. Last summer however, when one person asked this very question, I walked the gentlemen 4 meters to his right and pointed out four common lizards that were sat sunning themselves, each on a log to its own. He couldn’t help but laugh and later that day he also managed to spot a sand lizard out on the reserve too - a successful day!

What do you enjoy most about volunteering?

RSPB Arne seems to have been a key part in the childhood of many in the local area and beyond. Being part of the visitor team, it’s great to be able to hear stories of past experiences at the reserve and hopefully create new ones. 

A massive thank you to all of our volunteers, not just at RPSB Arne but across our Dorset reserves. The reserves wouldn't be what they are without your dedicated hard work and passion. Thank you!

If you would like to know more how you can be involved, big or small, click here to learn how!


Photo credit: Samuel Wrobel