Meet the Volunteer - Hazel Pears

Hazel Pears, Northants Volunteer Officer, explains her experiences from the first few months of her placement

My name is Hazel and I am one of the four volunteer reserves officers in Northamptonshire. I have always had a keen interest in wildlife and the natural world, and studied Zoology at university, followed by a master’s degree in Wildlife Management and Conservation. I then had a few years of unsuccessfully applying for jobs, as I did not have the required practical experience.

All of the training has been great fun to do and I have learnt so many new skills

Then I came across the Volunteer Reserves Officer role, which sounded like a good way to gain the experience that I needed. I started the role at the start of September and so far I have had a lot of training, including first aid, brushcutter and chainsaw, and there is still more to do! All of the training has been great fun to do and I have learnt so many new skills. The team that I work with are very friendly and more than happy to explain why we are doing an activity or to give advice on the best way to do things. I have really enjoyed working with the mid-week volunteer group, it is great fun to get stuck in to a job together and the volunteers help us to get much more work done than we would be able to do on our own.

Volunteering at Titchmarsh - bonfires after scrub cutting

Tasks that I have taken part in so far include scrub clearance, hay cutting and raking, checking on livestock, repairing fencing and removing trees. Over the winter there has been a lot of cutting and burning (you can’t beat a good bonfire in winter!) and site maintenance. These tasks are very satisfying as you can stand back at the end of the day and see what you have achieved and how you are making a difference.

It is also lovely to work in some beautiful areas of the county, even the sites that are in urban areas are important areas for wildlife. One evening in November at Storton’s Pits near Sixfields in Northampton, we had just packed up our tools and were waiting for the fire to die down when a starling murmuration started. It was an amazing sight, and quite unexpected in the middle of such a built up area.