We’re currently recruiting our next intake of Volunteer Practical Conservation Interns, a fantastic opportunity to develop the skills and knowledge required for a career in conservation and to join the Northern England reserve teams at the Aire Valley, Leighton Moss and Saltholme.

Two of our previous Interns, Emma Higgs and Tom Irvine, have kindly taken the time to summarize their experience of the role:

 “My goal when I set out was to become an Assistant Warden for the RSPB and taking part in the internship gave me all the knowledge, skills and experience I needed to achieve this. I got the opportunity to carry out an incredible variety of jobs. I took part in breeding bird and farmland bird surveys, WeBS Counts, surveyed for butterflies, water voles, harvest mice, bitterns, black-necked grebes and willow tits, as well as doing a lot of moth trapping! I learnt how to best manage land for nature through practical tasks such as scrub clearance, reed cutting, cutting wild flower meadows, clearing invasive species and putting out tern rafts. I also got the chance to build mink rafts, put up fencing, build a cattle pen, lay paths and much much more.

Getting to work across different reserves was also incredibly valuable as not only do you get to see different sites and species but you learn how things can be done in different ways. It was also incredibly fun and the teams of staff and volunteers I got to work with were all fantastic. I had great mentors who encouraged me and gave me countless opportunities to develop and grow and it was a real inspiration to me to work with people so passionate about what they do.

On top of all this, you get to see amazing wildlife every day! I had so many great encounters, it's hard to pick the best ones, but seeing the starling murmurations at Saltholme and the breeding spoonbills at Fairburn Ings have to be up there!! “


Emma Higgs, previous Intern at St Aidan’s/Saltholme and now Assistant Warden with the RSPB

"I completed a one year warden internship in Northern England in March 2019. Within 2 months, I had started my current full time job as an Assistant Reserve Officer for Lancashire Wildlife Trust. So, for me, the scheme did work. But why?

As someone re-training with no relevant academic background, and practical experience as a work party volunteer only, it allowed me to demonstrate a serious commitment to conservation, an obvious pre-requisite for any job. It allowed me to accumulate a significant amount of experience in a relatively short period of time. I was given responsibility for routine tasks and my own projects.

The training budget was generous and I gained a number of industry recognised machinery certificates. More importantly, I got plenty of chances to apply the training and develop competence.

When it came to applications and interviews, I found I had countless opportunities for examples of when and how I had demonstrated the skills and experience required by the role. This included things like leading and motivating volunteers, health and safety, problem solving, making the most of limited resources, maintaining tools and machinery, species ID, survey techniques and livestock handling.

Now I am in post, I am constantly saying,"with the RSPB we did it like this" and there is nothing that I did over the course of my year that hasn't been in some way relevant, 6 months into my career.

If you are serious about a career in practical conservation, I am proof that the scheme can work. If I hadn't taken advantage of this internship, I certainly wouldn't be where I am now."


Tom Irvine, previous Intern at Saltholme/Leighton Moss and now Assistant Reserve Officer with Lancashire Wildlife Trust

If reading about Emma and Tom’s experience has inspired you to apply for a Volunteer Practical Conservation Intern role in Northern England further information can be found on this link.

The closing date for applications is Sunday 19th January 2020.