Meet the Volunteer - Hannah Thompson

Hannah Thompson talks us through her first month as a volunteer Conservation Officer based in Cambourne.

Kia Ora! Hello!

Welcome to the first blog from the 2014 Volunteer Officers in the Wider Countryside Team - my name is Hannah Thompson; I am a slightly lost kiwi, who has found herself in Cambridgeshire. My new VO partner in crime is Barney, a Letchworth boy, who you will hear from next month.

I grew up in a way that most people expect of New Zealanders; lots of outdoors, sun, sea and mountains, which naturally led to a fascination with the natural world and I ended up studying Marine Biology. When you leave university, you think you know everything - it quickly turns out that you don’t (so thank goodness for opportunities like the Volunteer Officer positions at the Wildlife Trust!).

Dreams of travel pulled me to Europe like a slightly out of kilter homing instinct - trying to find a job in conservation in England proved more difficult than I thought and my mind quickly turned to volunteering. I spent two months on the Isle of Arran working at a Marine conservation trust before arriving in Cambridge.

Since starting at the Trust in February, Barney and I have been introduced to the massive operation that is the Wildlife Trust BCN. Our first day was a flurry of introductions and new and mysterious computer filing systems. Our first proper task seemed simple enough, tackle the issue of the team’s wader storage and fix all their holes. For years they had substandard housing and it was now time to build them a palace! You may have seen the photos on Facebook of them basking in the sun after their yearly scrub down. Barney’s carpentry skills and a slight mania for large tools came in handy as I played the role of assistant (and occasionally large weight in place of a g-clamp) we succeeded.

Since this early success we have cracked on with our power tool experience being introduced to the art of brushcutting and scrub clearing.

On a more cerebral level, we have started learning how all of the data collected by the Trust is collated and stored and started dabbling in that terrifying unknown, GIS (Geographic Information System). We are also making the most of the courses offered by the Trust and attended the ‘Shortcuts to species Identification’ workshop, run by the astounding Brian Eversham, Chief Executive of the Wildlife Trust. These courses are just fantastic! 

Now that we have passed the first month, it is full steam ahead - this week we have our First Aid course which will inevitably involve lots of fake blood and interesting information. In April we start (and hopefully finish!) a water vole survey of the Bourn Brook near Cambridge. This will be our first big project by ourselves. Wish us luck!