My name is Fiona and I am just beginning a yearlong TCV Natural Talent Apprenticeship hosted by RAFTS. My main focus is on Freshwater Invasive Non Native Species (INNS), so put simply: anything found along water courses that is outside of its native range and that is taking hold and outcompeting native wildlife. I will also be dipping into other areas of work within RAFTS and getting a real overview of the work they do.
A brief bit about me: I have always been interested in wildlife since a young age, but I started off working in animal husbandry, then moving into the world of wildlife rehabilitation, which led to me going back into education and studying wildlife conservation. Post-graduation I volunteered with various conservation charities for nearly 2 years. I then gained my first paid position as a seasonal assistant warden in the Tayside area. During this placement I volunteered with the Scottish Mink Initiative, and realised what a huge problem INNS are. I was so impressed with the coordinated and systematic approach of this project, I had seen nothing like it in England. Then I saw the TCV apprenticeship advertised and knew I had to apply for it, as it was too good an opportunity to miss. I feel that the control of INNS is a shared responsibility and not something to be handed down to the next generation – I want to be part of a generation that at least tried their best to leave the environment in a slightly better state then they found it – or at least did not make it any worse! So here I am, learning about the fascinating work of RAFTS and feeling like I am getting my teeth into a really substantial project that will have direct benefits for our native wildlife. I aim to bring you regular updates of my work over the next year via my blog, which you will find here:http://www.rafts.org.uk/category/fionas-blog/
What is Natural Talent I hear you say! ‘Natural Talent is training the next generation of naturalists through its unique apprenticeship scheme! Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and delivered by TCV and key partners in the UK conservation sector, Natural Talent has delivered 28 high quality training placements across Scotland and Northern Ireland since its launch in 2006. Each of these apprenticeships has trained an individual in either a taxonomic speciality or specialist habitat management skills in areas where there is a recognised heritage skills gap. Apprenticeships to date have included Machair, Peatland management, Coleoptera, Bryophytes, Lichens, Fungi, Molluscs, Seaweed, Soil Invertebrates, Grassland Fungi, Wetland Habitat, Brownfield Ecology, Riverflies, Saltmarsh habitats, Hymenoptera and Hoverflies amongst others.’
To find out more about TCV Natural Talent Apprenticeships and the work of my fellow apprentices please go to:http://blogs.tcv.org.uk/natural-talent/