As part of our week-long celebration of Volunteers Week 2020, one of our St Aidan's volunteer Rangers Charlie spoke to us about her first year as part of our volunteering team. 

"I first started volunteering with the RSPB exactly a year ago this week after seeing similar blogs from volunteers during Volunteers Week 2019. At the time I was between jobs after returning from travelling overseas but I have always worked in conservation and ecology roles, and been passionate about nature and the great outdoors. I currently volunteer as a ranger at RSPB St Aidan’s, welcoming visitors and maintaining the sites as well as helping out at events such as fun runs and the Big Wild Sleepout. 

 

Volunteering has helped me succeed in getting an ecology job in a number of ways. It helped my CV stand out, as many conservation and ecology jobs are extremely competitive. But having voluntary work on my CV made me stand out from others as it showed employers that I am really passionate and willing to go above and beyond. I also gained valuable skills – Volunteering has taught me so much and not just bird ID skills and conservation management techniques but skills that are transferable to any industry such as customer service, organisational skills, communication and problem solving. It’s also helped my confidence. Talking to such a diverse range of visitors and fellow volunteers has improved my confidence greatly which has helped me during many job interviews. 

 

Despite now working full time as an ecologist I continue to volunteer for the RSPB because I never stop learning and I really do enjoy it! My RSPB highlights have included meeting new people and making life-long friends – There is such a diverse range of volunteers from different backgrounds. I love meeting different volunteers and learning from them as they all specialise in different things. Then there’s the random conversations we have, lots of laughter and the care and support I receive from all of them on site and at home. I get to help at events including Bat Walks and Big Wild Sleepouts and I have learnt so much at these, but I feel I have also contributed to educate and inspire others at these events which is really rewarding.

 

There is so much to learn about nature and conservation and the RSPB has some great online training programmes as well as practical training days such as butterfly and wildflower ID walks. The RSPB really does appreciate their volunteers which is why we have our volunteer socials, which normally involve quizzes and CAKE(!!) so we can all come together and have some fun. You can see some of our Scottish-themed creations (below) for our last volunteer social, which took place around Burns Night! 

 

If you’re thinking of volunteering I’d totally recommend it and would love to welcome you to the site!"

 

Although our volunteering is currently on hold, if you’ve been inspired by Charlie’s experience you can contact our Volunteer Coordinator Janine via Janine.Brown-Jones@rspb.org.uk with any questions.

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