Residential volunteering at Mersehead is not only a great experience but can give you a great 'foot up' for a career in conservation, as two of its former volunteers explain...
“My first experience of long-term residential volunteering with the RSPB after I decided to change career was at Mersehead, and it was brilliant! Not only was it a wonderful place to be over the summer, right on the coast of the Solway Firth with huge flocks of Barnacle Geese either feeding in the fields or flying out to roost on the mudflats at dusk, but I learned so much while I was there. Bird and butterfly survey techniques, how to use a brushcutter, the essence of wetland and reedbed management, working with and leading the short-term residential volunteers, being duty manager in the visitor centre, leading guided walks...the list could go on! Not only that, but the team at the reserve were so friendly and welcoming. I’ve now managed to get an assistant warden position with the RSPB, and the start I was given at Mersehead played a huge part in that.”
Dan Snowdon, Residential Trainee Warden April 2013 – September 2013 (Now Assistant Warden at Lydden Valley & Dungeness)
“As a residential volunteer at Mersehead I had the opportunity to live and breathe reserve life, living in the heart of the reserve with wildlife all around. Being part of a small dedicated team and seeing the internal workings of a reserve was a fantastic experience. The variety of work I have been involved in, from manning the visitor centre to counting thousands of geese, has been the perfect stepping stone in developing my skills for a career in conservation.”
Gavin Chambers, Residential Trainee Warden October 2014 – March 2015 (Now Assistant Warden at Lake Vyrnwy)
“I have already gained a lot of valuable experience from volunteering at Mersehead. I wanted to volunteer somewhere with the potential for coastal birds, and couldn’t have been given more opportunities to survey them. To top the beautiful views off, the accommodation is well looked after and a nice place to be.”
Paul Baker, Residential Trainee Warden October 2015 – March 2016
If you want a break from ‘city’ life and the noise of cars, if you want to experience nature, tranquillity and a sea breeze then I would strongly recommend Mersehead!”“My time volunteering at Mersehead has given me an interesting and varied insight into the conservation, management and daily running of a nature reserve. Volunteers are provided with a modern cosy farm house flat and the chance to take part in relevant courses and on the job training.
Jennifer Breen, Residential Events & Learning Volunteer October 2015 – March 2016
“Volunteering at RPSB Mersehead has exposed me to some fantastic wildlife. From thousands of geese to spectacular wildfowl and waders. I’ve gained valuable hands on experience and met some great people as well”
Tim Lill, Residential Trainee Warden October 2015 – March 2016
Mersehead forms part of the RSPB’s residential volunteering scheme and every year we are visited by people from all walks of life, all looking for new experiences and the opportunity to gain skills from working on our nature reserves. Our short-term residential placement (2 weeks) is a great way to discover locations, meet new people and become part of the reserve team. It is also a fantastic way to test the water and explore whether pursuing a career in conservation is the right step for you.
Once you have decided that conservation is the thing for you, our long-term placements, which usually last for 6 months, are a brilliant way to develop and gain the skills and experiences you will need when applying for jobs in conservation. The residential scheme is a great opportunity for volunteers to experience the often hectic life involved in working on a reserve, there is always plenty of things going on and the variety of work is never ending which is what I love most! Our volunteers live in a recently converted flat in the farmhouse which is located in the heart of the reserve with stunning views and wildlife experiences literally on the doorstep.
We are currently looking for two long-term volunteers to join the Mersehead team over the summer so if you are inspired to join us, have a look through the job descriptions on our website and get in touch with the Residential Volunteering team at the Lodge to arrange an interview. There are still short-term placements available throughout July and August but watch out, as these placements fill quickly!
Warden, Mersehead and Kirkconell Reserves, RSPB Scotland