Olly Buck is currently a Volunteer Ranger with North Norfolk District Council - we asked him some questions
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CJS advertised the role of Volunteer Ranger last year, you were lucky enough to get the job; we’d like to ask you a few questions about your time as Ranger
Were you specifically looking for this sort of role?
How was the application, was there a lot of competition for the post?
The application was fine. I had to submit a CV and Covering Letter. After successfully passing this stage I was invited to an informal interview. There was competition for the post.
How easy has the 12 months been working on a full time (if you are) voluntary basis?
The tasks have been physical (I have definitely got stronger) but the tasks have all been doable and well explained. Nothing too hard but they have definitely tested me.
How easy was it to do without bringing in any money and working full time or was it a part time role you were able to work alongside?
The lack of income is hard but I know the experience is worth it. The hours are also very flexible so I can fit in other things I need to when required. I also get my petrol reimbursed which helps a lot.
What tasks have you been involved in whilst volunteering and has it been as expected? Which have been the best or most enjoyable?
Ride maintenance, strimming, being a banksman, felling with a hand-saw, building an electric fence, supervising volunteer groups and school groups, den building activities, mini-beast catching, helping with summer, Halloween and Christmas events, pond clearing, weekly butterfly survey, annual bat survey, milling planks, building benches, creating hibernaculum, and making signs.
Were these the types of things you were expecting to do?
Yes these were the type of things I was expecting to do. The variety of tasks is very enjoyable. The most enjoyable tasks have been supervising the volunteer groups and carrying out the butterfly surveys.
What training have you received and who paid for it?
I completed a safeguarding and wellbeing course that was paid for by the District Council.
So no practical quals, e.g. strimming or do you already have these?
Not as of yet.
Do you feel like you have contributed in a worthwhile way to the practical countryside management of the site?
Definitely – lots of wildlife conservation.
Is there any one thing in particular that you’ve done that you feel really makes a difference?
Opening up the rides and using the cuttings to make habitat piles. Some of the rides were becoming very dark and overgrown. The difference in space and light levels has been huge. Hopefully this will encourage wildflower to grow, help to maintain our rare butterfly species and increase reptile numbers. This spring and summer, I look forward to seeing the result of all the hard work.
What are the most important things you’ve learnt from the experience?
Knowledge of species, how to carry out pruning cuts and how to safely use tools.
Any downsides to the work?
It can be very cold and wet but I don’t mind that too much.
What has been the highlight of your time at Holt Country Park?
Being asked to go to the Green Flag Awards with the team.
Can you give any advice to applicants for future Volunteer Ranger post?
Follow the application instructions carefully. I know some people didn’t get very far because they didn’t read that they had to send in a Covering Letter as well as a CV. You also need a passion for the environment and just be yourself.
The role runs for 2 years so in 2021 The Council may be advertising for a new member. They say “The volunteer ranger post is very important for helping to create opportunities for people trying to get into the conservation wildlife management industry. NNDC aim is to help provide people with experience and training to help obtain their chosen roles. NNDC are supported by the volunteer in helping to carry out important conservation management for providing wildlife habitats and areas of enjoyable woodland and open recreation for visitors.”
Find out more about the Countryside Service at North Norfolk District Council at https://www.north-norfolk.gov.uk/countryside
First published in CJS Focus on Volunteering in association with The Conservation Volunteers on 10 Febraury 2020. Read the full issue here
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