In this blog, we hear from DCRT’s Kickstart trainee Beckie Fulton, who is now moving on to a role as Project Assistant on the Hidden Heritage Secret Streams project.
In April 2021, I jumped at the opportunity to become DCRT’s Young Persons Conservation Assistant. Although I had no previous experience in conservation and only some knowledge of hydrology that was years old, I knew that I couldn’t pass up on this job. DCRT’s mission “To conserve, protect, rehabilitate and improve the Rivers Don, Dearne and Rother and the associated non-tidal and tidal systems that might influence their fauna, flora, water quality and hydrology.” Whilst also engaging and educating the local communities on how to protect and love their rivers again really sparked by interest. As I grew up loving nature and the natural world, I knew that this position would allow me to follow this passion and also continue to learn more than I could during my time at university.
The position was only a six-month temporary position, funded by the Government’s Kickstart scheme. I knew that these six months would pass really fast and I would need to take every opportunity possible to learn as much as I could in the short time period. I had the chance to do so many things that I honestly won’t have time to mention them all, but the main highlights for me were being able to work with:
Schools and Youth Groups
One of the main parts of my role involved going into schools to help in the delivery of lessons and activities that taught young people about rivers, the return of the salmon and NFM. Working with young people in schools across the catchment and delivering river guardian sessions to sea cadets and beavers was one of the main highlights for me. I have always wanted to teach as part of my career goals, as I believe it is important to inspire the next generation and teach them how they can help save their planet. So, getting to do this as part of my role with DCRT was incredible. I was so surprised to find how much they already knew at such a young age – far more than I did when I was that young. I think this is a great thing because it shows that our message is getting across and the environmental sector is getting more widespread recognition than it has ever done before.
Working alongside and supporting DCRT’s amazing team of volunteers has also been one of the highlights of my kickstart position. Volunteering days gave me the opportunity to learn many new skills including kick sampling, meadow and bird surveying, post-installation and waymarking, litter picking and building bird boxes. But the most important thing I learnt came from interacting and talking to the volunteers. All of whom are passionate about our local environment, come from many different backgrounds and were knowledgeable about so many different things.
Unfortunately, I injured my wrist early on in my placement which made getting out to volunteering events difficult. I have not been able to attend as many as I would have liked, but the ones I did attend were great. I had so much fun working with our volunteers and this is why it is one of the highlights of my kickstart placement.
The final highlight of this experience was working with the other members of DCRT staff. Entering this role from a background in Volcanology and Geological Hazards, I had little conservation knowledge or experience, which meant I was nervous starting this role as I didn’t know if I had the expertise to excel in this line of work. However, I was greeted with a warm welcome by the DCRT team. I quickly learnt the ropes at DCRT and realised that teamwork was a major part of keeping such a big project going with a small team. Everyone was really supportive, willing to lend a hand and teach me when I was unsure. Getting to work in this role I learnt from everyone on the team including community engagement from Sally, NFM from Debbie and volunteer management and more technical skills from Matt and Anthony on volunteer days. Without such a supportive team I know this Kickstart would have been very different and I can’t thank everyone enough for their encouragement and help during these past six months.
Overall, this Kickstart position has opened my eyes to a career path that I would never have considered. I am also extremely lucky that I am able to continue working with DCRT, now my Kickstart placement has finished, as their new Project Assistant! This means I will be able to attend a lot more volunteer days and will continue to work on community engagement. Everything that I have loved doing over the past few months. I’m looking forward to this new opportunity and everything else I have still to learn. Thank you to everyone who made this such an amazing experience and I cant wait to see what the next year will bring.
Beckie’s six-month work placement was funded by the Government Kickstart Scheme which aimed to create new jobs for 16-24 year olds on Universal Credit. It was supported by the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, which supports former mining towns and villages throughout the UK.