Happy New Year! In the first week of this shiny new year, we are hearing from seven AFON members on their hopes and plans for 2016.
A few years ago I got into the habit of writing down events from the previous year that I was particularly proud or grateful for, rather than making a list of resolutions which probably wouldn’t come to fruition (i.e. going to the gym every day). However, I was pleased to be asked to write about my conservation related goals and resolutions for 2016 – these are personal ambitions that I care about but that can sometimes get overlooked in my busy, everyday working life.
This past year has been successful to a point. I was pleased to be interviewed for two very different positions at the beginning of the year: a surveying & monitoring trainee with Natural England and an Education Assistant with Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust. Unfortunately I didn’t get either job but the interview feedback was most useful and has led to my recent application for a distance learning MSc in Wildlife Biology & Conservation. Looking to 2016, I hope that I am accepted on this course and that I can continue to gather knowledge and skills in the wildlife conservation field. I am especially excited at the prospect of a 3 week intensive field trip in Scotland where I could practice the identification skills I gained through training courses with my local Wildlife Trust. If my application is rejected then I’m determined to improve it and apply again for September entry!
I recently attended a lecture by Mark Avery entitled “10 New Year’s Resolutions for the Wildlife Enthusiast” at Idle Valley Nature Reserve in Retford. One of his offerings in particular inspired me though: ‘No. 7 – Write to your MP about a wildlife issue you care about’. Last summer I drafted a letter to my local councillor about the cutting of a grass verge that was at the time home to thousands of peacock caterpillars. Unfortunately I never got round to finishing the letter and posting it, partly because I felt as though it would be an insignificant issue to most people and, sadly, I was a bit afraid of getting laughed at. Mark Avery reminded me to ‘No. 1 – Be Proud’ and ‘No. 9 – Speak out’ about my love of wildlife. I thoroughly enjoy my voluntary work encouraging children and families to connect with nature but I can find it difficult to talk to other adults who don’t share my passion for the environment. In 2016, I endeavour to shake off these anxieties and make sure that I do speak out on the issues I care about.
Another of Mark Avery’s suggestions was around ‘No. 6 – Supporting the right NGOs’. To me; this generally means local and in 2016 I will be joining my local bat group and hopefully finding the time to attend their regular meetings and talks, as well as joining them on surveying trip. I also want to buy a membership to BWARS as their website has been an invaluable resource for my personal interest in bee species and for researching and writing my blog so I feel it’s only fair to give them something back really!
Speaking of bees – I would love to travel the coast around the very North of Scotland and its islands to try to see Bombus distinguendus, the Great Yellow Bumblebee. This trip needs to happen sooner rather than later as Bombus distinguendus are increasingly rare and are confined to the most north-westerly points of Scotland. I thought I’d got lucky on Handa Island earlier this summer but I think that the bee I spent half an hour chasing around the thistles (much to my partners amusement/frustration) was a carder species in the end –in 2016 I’ll get my photographs independently verified!
I also aim to spend time outside closer to home. I got my first car this year and the freedom that came along with it is immeasurable. The past few months I have tended to sign up for cover shifts on all my days off. In the New Year I want to spend my days off off and exploring the countryside, parks and green places around Nottinghamshire, including the Peak District, which I know will leave me healthier and happier.
The final resolution I want to mention for 2016 is one I know I can keep: I will to continue to be inspired by the members of AFON. From blog writing, to taxidermy, to identification skills, to education & community work and even artistry – I learn something new every day and I’m so glad to be part of this amazing community.