Valentin Maugard is 9 months through his one-year placement with the Trust’s team in Ayrshire through the European Solidarity Corps. When lockdown began earlier in 2020 he decided to stay on in Scotland to continue learning about wildlife and reserve management.
A great thing about volunteering is that is full of surprises. For instance, when I came from France to Scotland to start my placement in March I did not expect to face a pandemic and the associated restrictions. It was obviously not the best time to travel, meet local people and discover local culture, but it has offered an interesting point of view on how the country works.
Thanks to the great Scottish Wildlife Trust team around me in Ayrshire I am still able to have an enjoyable and enriching placement. Transport was an early issue because of social distancing but I took up cycling as a way to get myself between the Trust’s different wildlife reserves. The Trust even secured funding through Tesco’s Bags of Help scheme to get me a brand-new bike, which I have been using during my stay!
My colleagues gave me a lot of knowledge about wildlife, the nature reserves, the related work, and various other topics, but they also gave me their trust. I was lucky to be involved in all aspects of some projects. For instance, I supported the development of a sand martin bank from construction through to counting birds and nests at the end of the summer. It was great to see for myself that a structure I helped to build is truly helping threatened wildlife. I was also able to implement some projects by myself.
Among other highlights, I completed a survey of the local population of kidney vetch, searched for mammals along a stream, and developed a method to monitor the variation of a river water-level and identify why it was changing. It was enjoyable for me to be outdoors and to work in great settings. And the weather was not as bad as I had expected after all!
Any feeling of loneliness this year was lessened by the opportunity to carry out other valuable jobs with two different volunteer groups led by Harry Richards and Sandy Waddell. It was an occasion to meet warm people as well as learn about other tasks that are part of reserve management. I was amazed by the motivation and the knowledge of the volunteers, and the work that could result.
While I was kept busy during my placement I had enough spare time to roam around the local network of cycle paths and I enjoyed discovering many of the landscapes that Scottish people take pride from, whenever it was safe to.
In brief, in March next year I will go back home to France perhaps a little soaked but with a smile, a bunch of new skills and beautiful pictures in my head.
Valentin is carrying out his placement with the Trust in Ayrshire as part of a European Solidarity Corps programme funded by Eramus+.
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Valentin Maugard is 9 months through his one-year placement with the Trust’s team in Ayrshire through the European Solidarity Corps. When lockdown began earlier in 2020 he decided to stay …