Gatekeeper butterfly; ringlet and meadow brown (Credit to Mark King)

The sustainability of the environment is a big passion of mine so for work experience, I instantly thought of the Forest of Marston Vale as the perfect place to learn what they do around conservation!

By Daania ǀ Work Experience Team Member, Forest of Marston Vale

As a year 12 student, I am currently doing A-levels at college, including geography. This will hopefully lead me to study sustainability/ environmental engineering in the future, which is what I want to go into for my future career. 

During my week at the Forest Centre, I did a range of work and saw that so much goes into the conservation of the parks - not just practically, but through fundraising and communications as well. It was interesting for me as it helped me think about which way I would want to work through in the future.

I had a lovely start to my Monday morning by making my way to the Folly Wood site in Lidlington to do a butterfly transect. This involved ambitiously chasing after butterflies and identifying them to count how many there are of each species in the area. I had a peaceful time looking at the stunning view of the surrounding villages and fields, despite the tiring trek up the steep hills. In the afternoon, I was working with the ranger team doing maintenance work around the Forest: using new tools, and having a fun ride in the Kubota. This included small tasks all over the sites, like fixing multiple signposts, hedge trimming, and pulling out invasive species of plants! Through this, I saw how much work is involved in the Forest being well-maintained.

The second day urged me to get out of my comfort zone a bit as my day was spent helping with a school trip at Rectory Wood in Cranfield, another Community Woodlands. There were about fifty 10-year-old children to keep busy with bug hunting and a woodland walk, which I helped supervise and interest the kids with.

The third day was something different again where I was working in the fundraising department. My morning tasks were preparing for upcoming events, such as sending emails to a list of 200 businesses and local organisations to ask for donations to the raffle for the Forest Family Fun Day. Then, in the afternoon, I attended a sustainability solutions seminar in the Forest Centre, where local businesses came to talk about how they’re making their workplaces more sustainable. A task I had during this was to think about how some ideas from the businesses could be implemented at my college, and I did manage to gather some inspiration.

Thursday was back with the ranger team as in the morning, I helped with another school of young children doing bug hunting and a scavenger hunt, and in the afternoon I was blessed (!) with the task of ragwort pulling at Millennium Country Park. I learnt that the ragwort plant is a native flower commonly found throughout the UK, that needs to be removed as it is highly poisonous to livestock if consumed. Ragwort pulling in a hot summer afternoon was not my preferred activity, but I learnt that this is a realistic task of a ranger during the summer! It was an experience...

Working a 9-5 job was tiring just for one week so there’s still some building up of resilience to do, but overall, I really enjoyed my time here. I learnt so many new facts about different species of plants and animals, I saw how much hard work goes into promoting and carrying out conservation of the Forest, and I worked with amazing people in a friendly environment, which I loved. This really encouraged me to carry on with environmental studies!

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