After a little research into the work that the Forest does with new developments to create a net environmental benefit, I knew I had to spend my time with the Forest of Marston Vale

By Lucy Sapp ǀ Work Experience Team Member, Forest of Marston Vale

During my studies of economics for the past 3 years combined with studying geography as one of my GCSEs, I have learnt about the growing need for renewable energy and a sustainable approach to economic growth, both socially and environmentally. Especially after seeing the significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions during the first lockdown and many people gaining respite from our allotted hour for exercise outside, I found that, in addition to economics, I wanted to specialise in sustainability at university. So when my sixth form announced a work experience week, I thought back to me and my family walking through Millennium Country Park and seeing the awe-inspiring wind turbine.

I would love to work for a non-profit or NGO in the future so it was incredibly interesting to see at ground-level the non-stop work that it takes to keep a charity running. It was eye-opening to see the challenges that a charity faces, particularly in terms of gaining funds. On my first day, I spent the morning sending emails to local organisations to ask for donations to the raffle for the Forest Family Fun Day. It was fantastic to hear that some of these companies had responded and were willing to help. In the afternoon, I helped to post flyers informing local residents, who had enjoyed the use of woodlands throughout the lockdowns, about the Friends of the Forest scheme.

My second and third days were spent with the ranger team, where I started by helping with a school trip. It was lovely to see young children being excited about nature, especially when they spotted frogs and butterflies. As the school group learnt about the park, so did I. For example, I found out about the Covanta incinerator that has been built since I last visited the park. I also spent one morning ragwort pulling at Folly Wood. It was interesting to learn that while ragwort is an important food source for cinnabar moths, it is poisonous to grazing animals. The rangers remove the ragwort from Folly Wood so the seeds don’t blow into a neighbouring paddock. It was extremely hard work but it was satisfying to see the meadow before and after our work. Fortunately, I had a less taxing afternoon treating benches around the Wetlands. Although my muscles still ache, I loved learning about the work the rangers do to maintain the sites and I admire them for keeping the park and woodland so beautiful day after day.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Forest of Marston Vale, despite the initial shock of being put to work for a full working day! I have learnt much more about nature and the park, an area of my knowledge which has been shamefully lacking. It has also been incredibly interesting to see how the departments operate and work together in a smaller organisation, rather than working in a large corporation. I have gained great experience from being in an office environment, as well as having the variety of being out with the rangers for part of the week. I am so glad that I was able to spend my work experience week with such friendly people and that I had an excellent range of things to do throughout my time here.

Jo Roberts, Community Engagement Officer for the Forest of Marston Vale, says:

It’s been a delight having Lucy with us for the week, and so amazing to see the enthusiasm that she has for our work and for the environment. We’re a small team at the Forest and sadly not always able to accommodate every request for work experience, but when the timing works out and we’re approached by someone like Lucy who has such a strong interest and understanding of why we do what we do, then it’s difficult to say no! It’s been fantastic getting to know and learn from a young person who is so passionate about sustainability and the long term future of the Forest, and we wish Lucy all the very best as she goes on to university - we know she'll do incredible things!

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