A bit of history…

A bit of history…

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My great-grandmother and namesake, Annie Irene.

Don’t worry, I’m not going that far back.

It was through visiting the amazing blogs belonging to various members of  A Focus On Nature (AFON) that made me decide I should have a go. Even if no-one else reads it, it will be a nice reminder to myself in however many years time when I’ll either be happy in a conservation related career or still struggling and still trying to get there.

So here you will find stories of my trials and tribulations, my trails and tales. This year I will be 25 years old. In September  2009 I started a degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine at The University of Nottingham. Within a year I had realised that my true passion, although still scientific, lay much more with the natural world and in the environment than in human based medicine, genetics, pharmacy and physiology. I stuck with it though, and graduated in December 2013.

For the past few years I have undertaken various voluntary roles. My first real experience of voluntary work was at Wild Future’s Monkey Sanctuary where I spent 11 weeks over the summers of 2011 and 2012 cleaning out the enclosures, preparing monkey (and human) food, identifying and picking wild plants for the monkeys to eat, waitressing and cooking in the onsite vegetarian cafe, getting involved in fundraising and promotion efforts at local events, general admin, database and office work and last but definitely not least: preparing and running the children’s activities workshops. I think it could have been this that made me realise that actually I’m quite good at communicating and engaging with children, and led me on to look for more volunteering opportunities when I moved to Nottingham for University.

My biggest and most regular involvement is as part of the Education & Community team for South Nottinghamshire with my local Wildlife Trust. My part time contract at the Nottingham University Library means that I have quite a bit of free time to get involved with the local school and community sessions that the education and community manager, invites me along to. This includes anything from tree measuring to pond dipping; litter picking to bird watching; orienteering to bug hunts; bat walks to den building. I absolutely love these sessions and always feel valued as a volunteer.

In 2013 I volunteered with AFON at BirdFair in Rutland. Myself and a couple of other volunteers commandeered children to add to a painted art mural themed around birds in the kid’s corner. We hoped to rival the adult’s art mural which had become a regular occurrence in the previous years. It was really successful (although of course it ended up not just with bird paintings but with drawings of spaceships and dinosaurs and sharks) and has continued to run in the years since.

At the end of 2014 I became a ‘Wildlife Watch’ Leader for the Nottingham City Group based at Wollaton Park, giving me valuable experience in organising and planning activities. In 2016 I joined the Attenborough Wildlife Watch group as a leader aswell.

I have undertaken quite a few training courses and conferences with Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust including;

Grasses for Beginners 

Winter Tree Identification

Bees for Beginners

Introduction to Wildflowers

Fungi for Beginners 

Wildlife Watch Conference 2015 

Watch Leader Training & Networking Day – covering British mammal identification, trapping and recording and  citizen science surveys using OPAL .

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More recently, I’ve been focusing my passion for all things bees! I made some fantastic contacts at the Bumblebee Conservation Trust in 2016 from attending various bee conferences, summits and festivals. I was invited to be in their focus group, and I’m greatly looking forward to sharing ideas and ultimately helping to develop a mobile Polli-Lab to teach secondary school children about pollination. I’m also volunteering with them at events; explaining the ‘plight of the bumblebee’ to members of the public, encouraging wildlife (especially bee-friendly) gardening and of course getting messy with the children’s craft activities.

In September 2016 I will begin studying for my MSc in Wildlife Biology & Conservation, part-time, distance learning with Edinburgh Napier University. I can’t wait to begin learning again!

I hope I can use this blog as a kind of diary to keep track of my journey, volunteering, fun times out with nature and hopefully, one day… career progression!

Thanks for reading if you got this far 🙂

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