Written by work experience student Ellis Armfield.
I am an A Level student who is lucky enough to have the opportunity to partake in a weeklong work experience placement with Froglife. As an aspiring wildlife conservationist, this placement was perfect for me and through it I gained invaluable experience and knowledge of the conservation sector, whilst meeting inspiring people and gaining practical skills. I’m extremely grateful to have had this opportunity and I have learnt so much. I want to thank everyone who I have spoken to and most of all Amy who has been my placement coordinator and without her I wouldn’t have had this valuable experience.
Monday 26th June:
For my first day I went to Banstead Beds community garden in Clapham Common. There was a community atmosphere, and the space was bursting with fruits and vegetables.
In our Wild Times session, I worked with a lovely group of dementia patients sampling water from the wildlife pond and testing it for things such as PH. We also used challenging, but fun, equipment to preserve a sample to be sent off and tested for DNA to show what species the pond has in it.
Everyone got involved and challenges such as putting on gloves and using equipment were overcome with teamwork an encouragement. It was great to see the group enjoying the fresh air and trying something new, as well as giving me the opportunity to work with an age group I hadn’t had much experience with previously. Afterwards we all sat down and had a nice chat and I remember Richard saying “we had a smashing afternoon” with a great big smile. Knowing I had made a difference to him made my day.
Tuesday 27th June:
On Tuesday I went to Lewisham hospital gardens. Despite being only a year old the beautifully designed gardens have many plants growing from trees to wildflowers and many fruits and vegetables.
I helped with general tasks, thinning out and replanting lettuces, watering and picking radishes. While I was gardening, I spoke with volunteers from the local community, showing me how much of a positive impact the gardens have had.
I also had a chance to speak to the project manager Alice, who told me about her role in the project and working for RHS as well as plans for further projects similar to this one. There is an idea of putting a wildlife pond in the gardens too and I was able to have a chat with a health and safety officer regarding implications of putting a wildlife pond in a public space. This made me think about legal aspects of conservation which can often be a major barrier.
Afterwards, Amy showed me the nearby newly planted ‘Tiny Forest’ which I had never heard of before and was enthused by such a great conservation idea to boost biodiversity in such a small space and within urban areas. Seeing so many community-integrated conservation projects has really showed me how much the local community wants to get involved and how essential this is to the project’s success.
Wednesday 28th June:
I had no sessions booked in so used this time to write this work experience blog as well as writing up a few social media posts.
I also had a zoom call with Kelvin, a manager of another project at Froglife called the ‘London Blue Chain Project’ giving me an insight into further projects I could get involved in. I will be volunteering for the Blue Chain Project in the future and am grateful to have had the chance to make this connection. Kelvin also spoke to me about the conservation sector as a whole and how he started working in conservation which was very interesting to hear about.
Thursday 29th June:
On Thursday I went to The Rookery community gardens in Streatham common. The lovely gardens have two large ponds and lots of plants growing.
Due to the rain that morning I managed to see lots of tiny froglets hopping about the gardens which was a highlight as I had never seen froglets before.
We worked with a large, chatty, and enthusiastic group who were lively as soon as they arrived and didn’t let the weather dampen their spirits. Just like Monday, our task was to sample water from the two ponds and send it off for DNA testing as well as testing the water for other things like PH and nitrate.
Due to the large size of the group, we split into two smaller groups and each group tested one sample. I lead one of the groups which gave me great experience in managing people, leadership skills and working as a team. Everyone had a go and got involved which was great to see and were very intrigued by the process of using the scientific equipment.
Afterwards we had a nice walk around the gardens and managed to spot a few froglets hopping around, before siting down and all having a nice chat with tea and biscuits. It was great to see everyone smiling and enjoying themselves and when leaving everyone said they had a great time.
Friday 30th June:
I had no sessions on Friday, so I finished up this work experience blog and an end-of-placement feedback form as well as writing up a few posts for Froglife’s social media. I also had my final zoom call with Amy, my placement coordinator, to say thank you for everything. I am sad that the week is over, but so grateful for such a valuable experience in which the knowledge and skills learnt will stay with me for the future.