Katie – Student Volunteer at Flower Pod Southwell

Hi, I’m Katie. I’m a student at Brackenhurst, Nottingham Trent University studying Ecology and Conservation and I’ve been working at Flower Pod Southwell for my placement year. I heard about them during my first couple of years at uni thanks to the existing links between the two organisations. They encouraged it as a place to get volunteering experience and I visited with my course as part of one of my second year modules. I also know that Adam Bates (Course Leader for Ecology and Conservation) has come over and run a couple of sessions with the clients on minibeasts.

It’s been a real pleasure working here this year, the team is really lovely and they’ve made me feel very welcome. I’m very lucky to be enjoying what I do every day. And each day is very different. Sometimes I’m classroom-based, working with the clients, when the weather is not too bad, we work on jobs outside like mulching the flower beds or preparing willow branches to be used for weaving. Sometimes I work outside with the garden volunteers, maybe weeding, or by myself, coppicing willow or sometimes I’m inside working on my laptop. So I get a lovely range of inside days, sociable days, independent days and days where I get to practise conservation skills that I learnt on my course.

My placement has timed really nicely with the Green Citizens Project (funded by the Samworth Foundation) that’s been happening here. A new wildlife garden has been built at the bottom of the site including a new pond, bog garden and bird hide and I’ve the opportunity to be around for the whole building project and will get to see it completed too. I had the opportunity to work with EMEC (the contracting company) alongside a huge team of volunteers which was exciting and gave me a taster of what it would be like to work for them. Since then as we’ve continued to work in and around the wildlife garden I’ve been leading a small group of volunteers which has been really useful as leading a group is a skill I wanted to develop this year and this is has felt like a very safe environment to do it in.
I’ve also been involved with some of the client-facing work with the Green Citizens Project and have been leading small group sessions on a Monday afternoon such as researching and planning what plants would be good in the wildlife garden and building a hibernaculum.

I’ve very much enjoyed the first half of my placement year and am very much looking forward to seeing what the second half will bring (hopefully a completed wildlife garden!).