Our secretary and media manager, Kashmir Flint, has been talking about her role and the benefits of volunteering…..
“Being a full-time student isn’t always easy and after all the essays and exams, we need experience to get onto the job ladder. To gain this experience, you get a job and to gain a job you usually need experience. It’s a vicious cycle and no wonder that many students end up frustrated.
But as I have found out, volunteer work can often provide invaluable experience that will hopefully land me in a dream working placement. I’m entering my third year of a Wildlife Conservation degree at the University of Kent, and hope to be employed as an ecologist after graduation. This job market is competitive and skills are often essential. This is how Dane Valley Woods is helping me out.
The project is found in the heart of Margate and was established in 2002, on land formally used as a rubbish tip. The council owned land is managed by the Dane Valley Woods volunteers, who have heroically braved the winter planting season each year since its establishment to plant over 4,000 trees on the site. They meet on the last Sunday of each month to help maintain the site through various tasks such as bramble clearance and mulching around trees to help prevent weed growth. Since joining the group in June 2011, I’ve been fascinated at the wide range of wildlife found at the site, and have recently started to add to the list of species recorded in order to give an almost complete audit of biodiversity.
I’m hoping that both my practical experiences in maintaining the woodlands and species identification as well as managerial skills gained through my role as secretary will help me to stand out against a crowd of graduates, all applying for the same vacancies. But the woodland doesn’t just help me. Dane Valley Woods is a community wild space and is open for everybody to enjoy and use. The volunteers established a memorial garden in 2013 for the public to plant trees for loved ones. Wildflowers have been planted at the site for aesthetics as well as for the insects and tasks such as Easter egg hunts and summer fetes have been held to engage the public.
However, Dane Valley Woods is in urgent need of volunteers to help the upkeep of the site. Task days are held on the last Sunday of each month from 10am until 2pm, meeting outside the Dane Valley Woods HQ, at the Dane Valley allotment site and volunteers are given free tea and coffee after their hard work. The group have a website address which can be found at www.danevalleywoods.org and we can also be found on Facebook or Twitter, where you can see many of the photos that I have snapped myself at the site.”