Helen - Carbon Landscape Trainee

I initially come from a journalism background and studied a journalism degree at UCLAN, where I graduated in 2007. After graduation I went on to work in the industry at a female interest website, FemaleFirst. I stayed with this company for nine years, where I worked my way up from staff writer to editor.

I was still at FemaleFirst when I began volunteering at Brockholes Nature Reserve as a Volunteer Ranger, a role that I still hold. It was a role that really got under my skin and I felt that I needed a change in career as well as a new challenge. I left FemaleFirst in August 2016 and enrolled on a Conservation Management Masters course at Edge Hill University.

During my year at Edge Hill, I was also volunteering at Brockholes as a conservation intern two days a week – it was the perfect balance of academic and practical knowledge and skills.

I graduated from Edge Hill in September 2017 and I became a full time intern at Brockholes for the next eight months. At the same time, I was working with Carbon Landscape on their Citizen Science project and conducting wetland bird surveys on a monthly basis.

I left my position at Brockholes in April 2018 to take up my new role as a Carbon Landscape trainee. I am hoping that this traineeship will lead onto a possible role as an assistant reserve manager or, possibly, a volunteer co-ordinator or project officer.

My major aspiration is to work as an assistant reserve manager on a single site. I love the idea of being totally invested in a single reserve/site where you can watch it develop and mature and see the impact – whether it be positive or negative – of the conservation work that you are doing.

Away from work, I am a keen amateur wildlife photographer. While I do not exhibit my photography I am very active on social media – especially Facebook. As a ranger at Brockholes, I still take images that are used on their social media as well as in displays in the site’s welcome centre.

Getting outside and experiencing and photographing nature is my main passion and something that I just love. I don’t want to leave my writing skills behind and am keen to pen a non-fiction, nature themed book.

So far, I have been getting to know the project and the partners and have been enjoying tours around some of Carbon Landscape’s sites and reserves. I have already had two great training sessions on identifying and removing invasive species and surveying dragonflies and damselflies. I have signed up to conduct dragonfly and damselfly surveys at Low Hall through the summer off the back of that training – I completed my first survey last week.

Looking forward to the water sampling training in a couple of weeks and there is also a planting project coming up for all the trainees at Woolston Eyes towards the end of the month.

I have also been involved in supporting events, including a guided walk at Low Hall and the Wigan Flashes Open Day and will be at another guided walk this coming weekend at Three Sisters.

I haven’t yet chosen a personal project – but I am meeting with Tony this week to talk about restoration projects, which could be a personal project. Restoration/practical work is where my heart really lies and what I would like the majority of my work to be while at Carbon Landscape.

I have already started work on the Millennium Green Meadow Project with Jenny Griggs. This looks like it will be community and restoration project and I will be writing the bids for this project. The aim is to improve disability access and fencing with one bid and install tractor access and restore the meadow with another. Millennium Green is fantastic community green space that has been forgotten and neglected and I am looking forward to playing a role in restoring it – fingers crossed we will be getting it off the ground in the next few weeks.

In terms of training, am hoping to gain my chainsaw license during my time at the Carbon Landscape, which would potentially help in the Millennium Green practical work.

I was keen to land the role as Carbon Landscape trainee as I believed that it would offer me the chance to plug some key skills gaps. During the next nine months I am keen to work extensively in mosslands and get more experience of working on fenscape and woodland projects. I am also keen to continue to develop my surveying skills and experience as many different survey techniques as possible. I am already up and running with my dragonfly surveys and I will be heading out on a water vole survey next week.

However, it is not all about gaining practical skills as I want to be involved with writing as many grant applications as possible as well as report writing and developing QGIS skills.