Our Voluntary Officer (VO) placements are aimed at people looking for an in-depth introduction to conservation. Placements are offered for up to a year in our Reserves and Wider Countryside Teams (and occasionally in other teams). The placements are designed to offer valuable hands-on experience in practical skills and related office work through volunteering in our teams across the three counties.
There is the opportunity to attend any in-house training and externally certificated courses that are essential to your volunteering role, such as first aid, brushcutter and chainsaw operation. A high percentage of VOs have gone on to jobs in the conservation sector.
Applicants need to have an enthusiasm for nature conservation and wildlife and a desire to get involved in the environmental sector. Good team working and communication skills are essential, as well as a keenness to learn. It is helpful if applicants had a full driving licence and a basic level of computer literacy. Previous experience of volunteering in conservation is desirable but not essential.
Details of the different Voluntary Reserves Officer (VRO) placements are detailed below.
West Cambridgeshire VROs
The Voluntary Reserves Officers for West Cambridgeshire will be based at Grafham Water Nature Reserve. As well as assisting in management of this large reserve with its mosaic of habitats they will help in the management of nature reserves all across Huntingdonshire and Peterborough. These include the SSSI woodlands Brampton Wood and Wistow Wood, the NNR Upwood Meadows and the diverse wetlands of Godmanchester and Dogsthorpe Star Pit.
East Cambridgeshire VROs
VROs in East Cambridgeshire will be based at our head office at Cambourne (Cambridgeshire) and will work with the reserves team on the Trust’s Nature Reserves in the south and east of the county, including the SSSI woodlands around Gamlingay and Waresley, chalk pits in Cambridge and wet woodland and meadows near Ely.
They will be working on a range of woodland and grassland sites carrying out reserve management tasks including tree felling and coppicing, grass cutting, access and site safety and surveys. There is also the opportunity to learn about and work with other teams at the Wildlife Trust, such as communications and fundraising. You will also get to spend some time with the VROs in the other counties on regular joint training days.
VROs will be based with staff at the Northampton office and work on nature reserves across Northamptonshire, with occasional tasks and training in Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire.
The placement period covers typical aspects of the seasonal work required to manage the wide range of habitats including woodland, wetland and grassland. VROs gain experience in the practical skills involved with the management of the Trust's nature reserves including: coppicing, tree felling, woodland ride management, meadow management, plant id, agricultural fencing, working with livestock, scrub management, reedbed management and access improvements.
Nene Wetlands VROs
The Voluntary Reserevs Officer will work alongside the Senior Ranger and be based out of the Nene Wetlands Visitor centre and tool store within the Rushden Lakes retail development. The Nene Wetlands cover an area of 270 hectares and have UK and international recognition as an important site for overwintering wildfowl.
The placement will cover assisting the Senior Ranger and conservation volunteers with the habitat management and public access activities required across the reserve. This will include livestock checks during the summer months. The role is part of the wider Northamptonshire reserves team and there will be opportunity to undertake work such as coppicing in reserves across the county.
The Voluntary Reserves Officer for Bedfordshire will be based mainly at our Griffin Farm Office in Toddington but will work on nature reserves across the county.
You will join a small team carrying out practical management, leading volunteer tasks, monitoring and surveying habitats and species in addition to helping out at a number of events and activities over the placement. You will gain experience of work on a range of different habitats from the chalk of Blow's Downs to the wet woodland of Flitwick Moor to the dry heathland of Coopers Hill.
In addition to this, the placement will include the opportunities to work within other areas of the trust such as livestock management, education and wider countryside departments.
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