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My final blog (Tales of a Reserves Assistant)

Posted: Monday 18th December 2017 by AssistantReservesOfficerERC

Silent Valley ant hill meadow

I am moving on and here are some of my thoughts about leaving and what I will miss.

October 2014 – January 2018 (Tales of a Reserves Assistant)

As you may have guessed from the title of this blog, it will be my last for Gwent Wildlife Trust. I am leaving my job in the Living Valleys (and the UK) in January.

I first started with GWT back in 2007 has a naïve college student on work experience. Back then I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life, but I knew it had to be something practical and in the countryside. As part of my college course I was required to complete ten weeks of work placement and throughout 2007 and 2008 I was at GWT. I will forever be grateful for people like Richard, Jan and Thom who would pick up and drop off me in Monmouth daily, this must have added hours onto their days. In was on work placement here that I decided that I wanted a career in conservation and to pursue that at university. 

I spent five years in Bangor, studying, exploring and drinking. I emerged fresh faced and looking to start a career. I was fortunate enough to apply and get a traineeship with GWT with the Living Valleys. Although it was only a short placement, I learnt a vast amount, given many opportunities and put through essential training courses. I grew part of the team and started to love the Valleys. However, my contract came to an end and I was offered a seasonal ranger job with the National Trust in the South Downs National Park.

After almost a year away, my seasonal contract came to an end and I was (again) fortunate enough to be offered work back with my old team in the Living Valleys. I settled right back into the team and the role, bringing my experience from my time away. I came back as a Reserves Assistant and was thrown into the deep end. I took opportunities with both hands and made a conscious effort to become the best I could be and push myself to the limit. I went on training courses that I thought I could never do, including medium tree felling and trailer towing. GWT and the team gave me the confidence to get me through these difficult challenges. I also dived pretty deep into the questions about conservation. I attended conferences, got stuck into debate, reading and discussing. Never satisfied to stay complacent with my knowledge, I kept trying to learn. Not only was this permitted by GWT, but actively encouraged. Speaking to friends from across the spectrum of work, this is rare and should be celebrated. I took control of my first nature reserve (Branches Fork Meadows), led the volunteer working group, ran the volunteer monitoring program and took on more and more responsibilities.

The small time I have known the trust, it has grown and developed immensely. Back in 2007, GWT was small, but now the trust is much larger, with three living landscapes and has undertaken and completed many massive projects. GWT in 2017 is also much able to take on the big fights and really stand up for nature. I think of the opposition to the Circuit of Wales and the M4. It has been professional and effective. Back in 2007 I do not think we would have been quite a capable of putting up such a fight. GWT also has a large voice in the national sphere and is helping to shape policy across Wales. I have seen this first hand, and behind the scenes there is some wonderful discussions on the future on conservation in Wales.

We live in uncertain times, especially where nature and conservation is concerned. Climate change, environmental degradation, pollution, and energy production are the biggest challenges we face. It will take people with passion, dedication and fight to push the case for wildlife forward. It is going to take some special people to keep strong – I can safely say that the staff and volunteers across the movement are more determined than ever to do just that. 

It will be hard to leave the Valleys. I will especially miss the landscape and the people. I will miss Silent Valley on a fresh autumn morning. I will miss the Environmental Resource Centre on a beautiful sunny summer day. I will miss the Sugarloaf on a crisp winter morning and I will miss the first butterfly of the year fluttering through Central Valley in Spring. 

Diolch and adiόs.


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