Being a Volunteer Trainee Local Wildlife Sites Assistant

Park Wood Bislington

Local Wildlife Site volunteer trainee Christine Davison reflects on the experience of her traineeship with Kent Wildlife Trust.

One year ago, driving down the M20 into a beautiful bright sunrise, nervous but excited I headed for my interview for a traineeship with Kent Wildlife Trust. I had spent two years since leaving university in an office job totally unrelated to the natural world and had decided it was time to take back control of my dreams. I wanted to work in conservation, I always had but somehow I had let it slip away from me. I hoped this traineeship would be the perfect way to get back into the field I am most passionate about.

Entrance to the KWT's Tyland Barn HQ

Entrance to the KWT's Tyland Barn HQ

I was successful! The same day as my interview I was offered the position and jumped at the opportunity. I handed in my notice and spent the next long month waiting for the start of my next adventure. 

I have volunteered with the Conservation Officer (Wildlife Sites) for almost eleven months now. General office duties have obviously formed a large component of the role; a successful scheme can’t run smoothly if the paperwork isn't in order. However, over the summer I was able to visit sites with botanical surveyors and gain on-the-ground experience.

I have been involved in all aspects of Local Wildlife Sites; from initial permission requests to land owners all the way to the final approval by the Kent Nature Partnership and the designation of a site as a ‘Local Wildlife Site’. I have learnt a lot about the rare and important species of Kent from editing and updating citations relating to these sites, sometimes doing paperwork has a positive side-effect!

Joan Beech Wood

Joan Beech Wood

As part of this program, Kent Wildlife Trust  provides training in relevant fields. I attended many of Kent Wildlife Trust's own study days over the year which I found fascinating, informative and fun. I was able to visit project sites with other team members and was impressed by the skill set available and enthusiasm of attendees and volunteers. To round off my knowledge and give me an insight into all aspects of wildlife conservation I also took part in a three-day wildlife law course which opened my eyes and broadened my mind, it will definitely make me approach certain situations differently in the future. This wide range of courses I have been able to attend has shown me how important it is to have, at least a basic, understanding of all aspects of conservation, not just the one area you are interested in.

The most valuable part of this traineeship has been the skills and experience I have gained producing maps using GIS (Geographical Information System) software. I even attended the annual ESRI UK 2016 Annual Conference (the provider of the GIS software) in London, where companies from all over the country and from various sectors meet to share their stories and expertise on how they optimise the use of this complex and intelligent software. I have also learnt about the creative side of the software in producing a StoryMap on LWS.

Wildlife sites map screengrab

I would definitely recommend this traineeship or any of those offered by the Trust with other departments for anyone look for experience in the real world of conservation. I was asked to commit three days a week to the Trust which means I was able to continue with a paid job alongside. This provided the perfect balance for me and I will be sad to move on. I hope this will have opened some doors for me and as I begin to apply for paid positions in this sector. I am hopeful for a bright future, a big thank you to Kent Wildlife Trust!

By Christine Davison, Volunteer Trainee Local Wildlife Sites Assistant

We are currently advertising for our next Volunteer Trainee Local Wildlife Sites Assistant. Read the full job description and download an application pack at: