Work experience? What an experience!

Hello! My name is Sam, I’m a countryside management student that’s been given an opportunity to work with the Don Catchment Rivers Trust, in fact I’m the first ever work experience student that they’ve ever taken on.

Working with the trust has given me a lot of experience with the different aspects of river management and interacting with the public and volunteers. Litter picking, Himalayan Balsalm pulling, trolley removal, wading, brush-cutting, bushcraft with brook explorers, making pipe-cleaner dragonflies, wildlife ID and the slips and wobbles that come along with wading in rivers, are all activities I have had the pleasure (mostly) of doing while with the trust. I say mostly because rivers are quite cold when you fall in.

brushcutter volunteer.jpg

My time at the trust started with them, very kindly, putting me through my brushcutter/ strimmer course, which I passed along with another volunteer called Andy, nice chap. Anyway, the first proper session I did was a river clean-up in Holme Brook behind ravenside retail park in chesterfield. This gave me a chance to meet the many dedicated volunters that keep the rivers free of trolleys, traffic cones and tyres. I had a wonderful time working with them and by the end of the day we had two trolleys, each full with bags of rubbish and about half a dozen full bags strewn around them.

The week after, exciting times, bushcraft with brook explorers and my first signal crayfish find ever. Another trolley out the river and one almost coaxed out but alas it would be a job for another week.

Third week in and its time to do some Himalayn Balsalm pulling, just need to cut a path through and.. oh, brushcutters aren’t meant to wobble that much, turns out the blade was just a little off balance, causing the entire machine to vibrate like a washing machine, so I resorted to a stick. Fortunately, we didn’t use it and the day after I noticed what was wrong. Although I wasn’t able to fix the blade issue, I and two others were able to remove the leftover trolley from the week before.

20190822_102813.jpgThe troublesome trolley was filled with silt and litter making it difficult to remove but we eventually got it out. 

Later on, I got a dunking after my foot slipped down a hidden clay bank, however I was lucky becuase a little after I slipped, Matt properly fell in and got quite wet…

On the Saturday after, we had our International Year of the Salmon event next to the Oasis dining area at Meadowhall. I was tasked with helping children make pipe-cleaner dragonflies and river wildlife badges, it was great fun! However, the highlight of the day would have to be the Kingfisher that kept flying up and down the river next to us, an incredible sight to see.

More Balsalm pulling in week four and a few more signal crayfish finds while litter picking in the Holme Brook/River Rother confluence, sadly the trolleys we found were surrounded by deep water which we couldn’t access even with our waders. Other finds include the back panel of a Hilux, a wheelchair, a brake disc and about a quater-ton of rebar and scrap metal. A top-notch Victoria Sponge made by Anthony provided the energy needed for removing the mix and match of metal, plastic and rubber from the river.