Over the year, we have volunteer places for young people at the Visitor Centre. These can be privately arranged or through organisations like Duke of Edinburgh (Bronze, Silver or Gold Awards) with the aim of including a young person in all the hustle-bustle, comraderie and background hard work of the centre.
Here’s a piece written by Callum, one of our recent work experience students who gives a good idea of the sort of thing a young volunteer will be asked to do while at Loch of the Lowes:
“From the start of June to late August, I have been volunteering at the Scottish Wildlife Trust visitor centre at the Loch of the Lowes for work experience. When I started, I was going to school nearby, so I could work on Monday, Thursday and Friday mornings; I enjoyed it, so when the term ended, we made arrangements so that I could come every Monday, for all day.
The Loch of the Lowes has been a great place to do work experience. I’m quite interested in wildlife, but all the same I found the idea of taking a daily census of birds at the centre and on the Loch quite daunting: I imagined staring blankly at a huge mixed flock of barely-distinct swallows, swifts and martins, all flitting about so fast that fixing my gaze on even one would be like trying to grab an eel, let alone trying to identify and count all of them. As it turns out, this isn’t really how it is at all, and watching the ducks, siskins and chaffinches flock around the feeders is really quite relaxing (though when the swallows and martins did descend on the loch, I thought it was acceptable to settle for rough estimates). I’ve particularly enjoyed filling up the bird feeders each morning. On just my second week at the Loch, I had a particularly close encounter with a red squirrel, when I lifted up the lid of one of the box-like squirrel feeders to find it nestled comfortably among the peanuts. It took me a second or two to realise what I’d stumbled upon, which was as long as it took for the squirrel to awaken from its doze; after it had barrelled up the tree, I felt a little guilty, and slightly shaken, but it was a great privilege to cross paths so personally with a creature that many people feel lucky just to glimpse.
But even the more mundane tasks (sweeping, dusting, taking out the recycling) haven’t been boring – not dead exciting, but the Loch of the Lowes has just been a really nice place to be. It’s great to be surrounded by wildlife, the atmosphere’s quite welcoming (courtesy of the staff and volunteers), and even at its busiest, I haven’t found it stifling – I’m quite a shy person, but against my expectations I’ve felt quite comfortable helping visitors identify birds and (only if they ask) telling them a bit about my volunteering. It’s an opportunity that I’m very glad I’ve taken.”
At the moment we have a full programme of young people but anyone wishing to explore the possibility of this type of volunteering should contact us about places for the early new year.