The Chapter Closes at Carlton

Hello! Vicky here and writing to you for the last time. This is the last week of my internship with the Suffolk Wildlife Trust at Carlton Marshes, six months has flown by!
SuffolkWildlife Trust

I’ve been at the reserve three days a week from 9 till 5 and I must say I’m going to miss it. These past six months have been very kind to me with the glorious weather we’ve been having, I’ve only been caught out in the rain twice and that was during the past two weeks. I’m looking forward to the temperature coming down as I’m sure many of you will agree, ready for those snuggle jumpers and drinking my body weight in tea.

Suffolk Wildlife Trust

There have been so many highlights to this internship, the amount of experience I’ve gained has been monumental. I spent the first half mostly focused on school trips, seeing over 1600 children come through the reserve, enjoying all the activities we provide. I’ve traveled round the county helping our wild learning officers with sessions in Ipswich and Felixstowe, representing the trust at the Suffolk Show and Latitude festival, all giving me experience in events and outreach. This summer we have seen many families and children come along to our activities, with four sessions each week. Tuesdays have been for our Tots, with themed days such as the Hungry Caterpillar and Teddy Bears Picnic. These have been great fun with our returning Tots, from our term time sessions, and some new comers enjoying different locations around the reserves and new activities. Thursdays have been our children’s day with young bright sparks joining us to learn about new subjects or activities such as Marvellous Migration where we learnt all about migratory species such as the Cuckoo like Carlton II pictured here, who left Carlton Marshes to fly to Africa  for the winter. I had the privileged of assisting BTO with the tagging and release of Carlton II, definitely worth the 2 am wake up to see such a beautiful elusive bird in hand.

Suffolk Wildlife Trust

During my internship I’ve had the chance to develop sessions and activities, using my natural world knowledge to the fullest, and delivery those to families and children. My favourite session I developed was a skull identification activity. At university the closest we would get to an animal was that of a specimen or skull and I found studying them fascinating, the way you can tell so much about the ecology of an animal just by the bones they leave behind. For this session I rummaged through Carlton’s collections of skulls, some of which needed to be identified, and came up with clues to help children identify them. This activity went down great with the children enjoying the chance to see skulls up close and personal, which is a rarity!

Suffolk Wildlife Trust

How can I not mention Wild Tots (I know I already have but I’m going to again). The sessions with our Tot’s were my first experience of early years learning and I never thought it was an area which I had particular interest- boy I was wrong. From assisting sessions to leading them very early on Wild Tot’s has been almost guaranteed for me every week in my diary without fail. I’ve loved getting to know the Tot’s and observing their behaviour in the great outdoors, how they interact with the things around them, how they light up when they hear a birds song or feel the slime of a slug on their hands. Developing activities for them has been enlightening, who knew about all the different things you could do with mud?! It’s been a challenge to keep each week interesting with new things to entertain them but without fail its been the good ol’ faithful mud kitchen and our tree rope keeping them amused for hours. I can not emphasise enough how much these sessions have brought me joy and I’ll miss the Tots and their families dearly.

Suffolk Wildlife Trust

Now you might be reading this blog post to find our more about the Internships with Suffolk Wildlife Trust, how they work, what you get out of it and if its right for you. Firstly, the internship I’ve taken is specific to Wild Learning or in other words the ‘educational’ side of the charity but don’t miss construed this as being just for school, as I’ve mentioned there are a variety of  learning activities with various audiences ranging from schools, families, tots and specialist groups so there is always something different around the corner. If you want to go into the field of education such as teaching in schools then I believe this internship would be an alternative way to gain experience which will definitely widen your mind as to the possibilities of using an outdoor space. If you’re considering going into environmental education, such as a role with Suffolk Wildlife Trust or a similar charity then in my opinion this internship is a must, nearly all job environmental education jobs will want you to have a minimum of a years experience volunteering and with many roles your responsibility or input will vary. With this role I’ve been an integral part of my team with active involvement in the development of activities as well as delivering them solo, as a member of staff would.

Suffolk Wildlife Trust

The 3 day requirement a week I believe is a rarity among internships. When I’ve been browsing many of them span months if not a year as a full time role, 5 days a week. In my position I couldn’t afford to be taking on unpaid work for such a length of time, only doing 3 days a week allowed me to work so I could support myself while gaining the experience I so dearly needed. I’ve also had the opportunity to attend courses such as the Wild Beach Leader Level 3 and will be attending a Forest School Level 1 in September, these courses are highly sort after and with that include a substantial cost but I am fortunate enough as an intern to be able to attend these for free, allowing me to gain not only hands on experiences but qualifications.

So have the past six months been worth it? Definitely. After graduating I was lost without a clue where to turn, with vague ideas and little confidence I couldn’t picture my future. This internship gave me purpose, I’ve been outdoors in the fresh air on a beautiful reserve everyday, learning and teaching about the natural world, working with children of all ages and seeing their excitement grow.  I’ve met many like-minded people, built friendships and branched my knowledge of all wild things. Going forward I think that I want to forge a career for myself that spans environmental education, conservation and community outreach. I’ve not secured myself a job as yet and will continue to volunteer at Carlton when I can, but I’m very hopeful that this internship will help me stand out and be the start of a bright future.

If you’d like to keep tabs on my continuing adventures then follow me on twitter @VictoriaBolton_