I am Ana and I have been volunteering with the Wildlife Trust for the last two and a half months. I have been doing a work placement with the Monitoring and Research team as part of my PhD with the University of Sheffield.
Even though my degree is in Biomedical Sciences, which is quite a different field, I was given the chance to use my placement to work anywhere I wanted within the scientific field. I chose to do my placement with the Wildlife Trust because I had not had a chance to see management and conservation of wildlife in practice, and I have always wanted to know what is involved.
During this placement, I have helped with several plant surveys in woods, grasslands, meadows, and lakes. I really enjoyed these and it massively increased my knowledge and skills in plant identification, as I had no experience of this before. I have also had the chance to help with drone surveys, GIS mapping and analysing bat sonograms, giving me experience in a range of software/programs and technology in general.
I was introduced to butterfly identification through participating in butterfly transect surveys. Other activities I was involved with include Himalayan balsam pulling, dormouse box monitoring and educational outreach events. Finally yet importantly, I have been inputting data from surveys and in some cases have been analysing the data and reporting the results. This definitely contributed to further developing my data analysis and critical thinking skills.
My placement with the Wildlife Trust has definitely been an excellent experience! I am not sure yet if it will change my career choices after the next two years of PhD I have left. However, I know it has had an impact on how much I appreciate the conservation work being done and it has inspired me to get to know and be personally involved in looking after the local wildlife where I live.