Monday 4th February to Friday 15th February 2019: Work experience
By Henry, St. Christopher’s CE High School
When I arrived, I was met by Ellie, who showed me around and introduced me to all the welcoming staff at the Ribble Rivers Trust. Firstly, I found out what everyone’s roles were, before learning in more detail what the Trust does and what I would be doing during the next fortnight, including tree planting which I did the next day. Then in the afternoon I went to Bashall Brook with Adam W to take some pictures to show the difference that has been made to the site as many trees and fences were put up and planted and there had been other features like brash bundling put in to stop erosion.
I arrived in early on Tuesday to go tree planting with Jonny and some of the apprentices, after loading the truck we set off for the day. After offloading the truck upon arrival to Wycoller, we set out alongside the stream planting trees. Planting trees near the river helps cool the temperature of the river and can stabilise its banks. Once we had planted all there was to plant, we set back for the warmth of the office all tired out, especially me as I’d never planted before!
On Wednesday I went to Stainforthwith Helen to test a circular walk route. On the route we took grid references at any gates, stiles or other forms of gateways. All of this is to produce a leaflet for the circular walk and to see if it is true to the map and suitable for people to walk. When we got back from Stainforth I started researching places on and around the walk as information for the leaflet learning lots about Stainforth, I also put the grid references into a computer to map out the route checking we had walked it right and to know where all the gates, styles, and other features were.
On my fourth day I was introduced to Neil, who is involved with the Rivers in the Classroom project. We had to go around some of the schools who are keeping trout in their classrooms, checking on them. We went to schools in various locations, from Oswaldtwistle to Hurst Green, checking every school’s tank. They were all fine, so we turned the temperature up on the tanks to encourage the trout to develop. When the trout grow, they can start to be fed by the children, getting them more involved, eventually the trout will be released into a river near to the school. As well as checking trout we also went to a meeting to discuss fishing in schools and some fishing awards for a school which Neil runs.
On Friday I went to a careers fair at Myerscough College with Matt, Kathryn and Helen. At the fair there was lots of other businesses and organisations from different subject areas. There were lots of students present and many spoke with us about what the Trust does and what career paths it can lead to and the volunteering side of it, we gave out many leaflets and students loved the free pens!
Then we went for a much-needed lunch break before heading back to the event. Lots of students enquired and all from different subject areas and tried out the virtual reality head set we brought along, which shows a 360-degree view of two sites improved by the Trust, giving facts about some work done and issues in the catchment. Then after the rush had died down and students had left, we packed up and headed back for the day. This had been a great first week to start my two weeks work experience, getting involved in multiple tasks to do with different sides of the Trust with different people.
To start my second week, on Monday I went out with Jack and Kathryn to Stotts Farm with Myerscough College to do some diffuse pollution training. Once the students had arrived Jack gave a talk on diffuse pollution including what diffuse pollution is and how it can be controlled. We were then given a guided walk around the farm to see what they do and how they have stopped some diffuse pollution. Then we had a lunch break before heading out to a site down the road where some work had been done by the Trust to stop diffuse pollution, such as planting trees on hills and softening the ground and slowing run off.
On Tuesday I went with Jonny, Ryan, Rob and Michael (a volunteer) to Wycoller tree planting. We planted some aspen, common oak, holly, silver birch just to name a few. When we arrived, we split different types of trees up into bags and went out onto the hillside in the wind. I mostly did some hammering of the stakes, holding the cases up for the protection of the tree, especially needed with the wind up there and all the rabbits. After planting lots of trees, we headed back to the office to unload the truck after warming up.
On Wednesday I went to Lytham with Helen to clean a beach with some volunteers and staff from LOVEmyBEACH. We then had a meeting with Emily from LOVEmyBEACH to talk about working together in and around the estuary and tidal River Ribble. This is because the areas the two charities cover overlaps near the estuary, meaning they can work together on certain events. Litter picked along the Ribble and other smaller brooks and streams around the Fylde area is prevented from ending up in the sea. Then we went to a park in Preston to look at the amount of rubbish being tipped there and into the stream, which all ends up in the Ribble to try organising a clean-up. Then we went to some schools and local businesses to promote a tree planting day near Preston at half term as it is family friendly, so ideal for locals.
It was back out tree planting on Thursday with an early start as we headed out to Wycoller on a very nice morning with the sun shining. When we arrived, we put up a sign on the main road for volunteers as it was a volunteer tree plant. Before the volunteers arrived Jonny, Ryan and I started planting some Scots Pine, then some volunteers arrived so we planted with them. The sun stayed shining all day and after a few hours it was time for a break and coffee, and before long we were planting again, I had a chance to meet new people and chat to them whilst planting in the lovely weather for a change. Then after a day of planting we headed to the office once again, a lot of progress had been made at Wycoller whilst I’ve been here and is soon to be completed.
Overall, I’ve had an enjoyable two weeks at the Trust doing many different tasks and getting a taste of what it will be like to work in the future. I have learnt a lot from how to plant trees to diffuse pollution. It has been a very positive experience, and I’ve picked up many skills, and gained in confidence along the way talking to people outside of my friendship group. I have also learnt all about the Trust and how they help my local rivers and what impact it had. I would like to thank the Trust for having me and everyone helping me out and giving me great experiences, also for a welcoming atmosphere in all areas. Couldn’t have picked a better place for my work experience.