Join our Team: Summer Placements are here again

Cambridgeshire ACRE is looking for volunteers who would like work experience as a Logossummer placement, to assist with the delivery of the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership Scheme.

Are you looking to embark on a career in environmental, community, landscape or heritage management? If so, then this could be the volunteering opportunity for you as it will give valuable, varied experience and will give you that head start when it comes to applying for jobs in the sector.

If you are successful, you will be working with a small team of experienced Cambridgeshire ACRE staff and will benefit from on-the-job mentoring across a number of different elements of the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership scheme.

What kind of person are we looking for?

You will need to be flexible and keen to work on a wide variety of types of work, as you will be involved with a partnership which includes a wide range of local, regional and national organisations.

What sort of things will the role entail?

We would love to welcome you to our team.

We would love to welcome you to our team.

There will be fieldwork including interviewing members of the public about their visitor experiences, as well as desk-based work to record data and to write up consultation findings. You will also get involved in communicating via our social media resources (such as this blog) and at various community events and workshops.

 

Full Job Description

For a full job description and to find out the full range of the role, you can download the role description directly here: Summer Placement 2014 (This is also available on the Resources page).

Applications

If you wish to make an application, please send your CV together with a short covering letter outlining why you feel you are suitable for the role to mark.nokkert@cambsacre.org.uk.

The final closing date for applications is 30 June 2014, although we urge people to come forward as soon as possible, as we will be assessing applications when they come in.

We look forward to hearing from you soon. Any questions? Just contact Mark Nokkert, the Programme Manager.

vacant seat

If you’re the right person, there’s a chair waiting…

Where have our volunteers gone?

Heritage Lottery FundSince the last of our summer placement volunteers left us about three weeks ago, it has been strangely quiet in the office here at Cambridgeshire ACRE. Of course, the last few weeks have been far from quite on the work front, as we are now less than 10 days away from our stage 2 submission deadline, so I have very much missed the extra help I received over the summer months.

Several people have asked me recently what has happened to our volunteers – as they came along to some site visits and meetings many people have actually met them in person – all four also participated and helped out at last month’s conference.

Therefore I thought I would write a little blog post about our volunteers, as a way of publicly thanking them for the tremendous amount of hard work they have done for the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership (OWLP) scheme, and the useful outputs produced.

From the moment we started recruiting summer placements, it has very much been the idea that this would be a two-way way of working: the OWLP scheme getting hard-needed extra help, thereby also being able to do those things which always seem to remain on the ‘to do’ list, whilst volunteers getting useful work experience which would help them in their further career.

Well, I can honestly say that we have managed to successfully address both intended aspects. Our volunteers all came with very different backgrounds and levels & types of experience and knowledge, and each wished to get different things out of their placement. The feedback received from our volunteers is that they all got out of it what they hoped for; where possible, we have tried to get people to do the kind of work in line with their knowledge, expertise and, most importantly, with the kind of work they are most interested in to follow up on as a career.

The OWLP has also certainly done well out of them – between the four they clocked up an incredible total of 913 hours of voluntary work! They have been involved in a variety of things, which included:

  • Conference preparations;
  • Blog posts: research and writing;
  • Twitter updates;
  • Research and writing for LCAP;
  • Researching and condensing information from a range of management plans relevant to the area;
  • Community consultations: organising, attending and writing up of discussions;
  • Creation of displays for events;
  • Contacts with partner organisations & people;
  • Research for and writing of project proposals;
  • Site visits and meetings attendance;
  • Minutes taking;
  • Compiling a database about events in the area;
  • Compiling a database about tourism business providers in the area;
  • Compiling a database about online platforms used by other Landscape Partnership schemes.

Peter had worked for many years as a pilot and aviation manager which has made him see much of the world, but now aimed for a very different type of career. Already running his own smallholding within the OWLP area, and actively carrying out woodland crafts and carpentry, he now wishes to chase a career in countryside management. In September, Peter started at Nottingham Trent University on an intensive one-year Countryside Management Course. His experience for the OWLP provided him with contacts with several organisations and people working in this field thereby giving him easier access to volunteering opportunities in the OWLP area during his course, and has made him even firmer in his believe that this is indeed the kind of work he wants to do. Click on the links to see some of Peter’s excellently researched blog posts about the hidden heritage – the hovertrain and WWII Mepal airfield – in the OWLP area.

Anna, similarly came to us whilst in the middle of a major career change – having just graduated from the Royal College of Music, she now wanted to do something quite different: before coming to us she had already applied for a two-year course at the University of Bristol in River and Coastal Engineering, further pursuing her interests in geography and environmental sciences. As part of this course, she would also need to spend just under a year at a council to do Environment Agency-related work. During her time with us, she had an interview with Suffolk County Council who offered her a place, meaning she could then also attend the course in Bristol, where she started in September. Anna reckoned that her presence with us, in particular the experience gained during a couple of meetings with Environment Agency staff and becoming familiar with a range of water management strategies, helped her gain this position. For some of Anna’s work for the blog, see for instance these very useful posts about the Ouse Washes and the John Martin sluice.

Jessica was just finalising her dissertation for an MSc in Environmental Monitoring and Assessment at the University of Southampton when she started with us. Her knowledge about biodiversity, ecosystem services and environmental management, and her experience in getting communities engaged with the environment, has helped getting a good grip on these subjects for our stage 2 submission documentation. She wishes to pursue a career in environmental management and valued the experience we were able to give; she has since obtained a six month placement at the RSPB’s head office. For some of Jessica’s interesting blog posts, see these ones on Ecosystem Services and on the Wetland Vision.

Chris had just obtained his degree in Environmental Science at Bath Spa University before coming here, bringing with him his knowledge of environmental management and conservation. Through the exposure to a range of different work assignments the placement has provided him with a much better understanding of what it is he wants to do next. Just today I received news that he has been offered a volunteering placement in Scotland, for which he applied whilst working for us; there he will also be given a range of accredited countryside conservation skills and working in public outreach. See Chris’ informative blog posts about other LP schemes in the region and on the washes.

I wish all our summer placement volunteers all the best in their future careers. Thank you for your time & efforts here!

Building on the success of this summer placement scheme, we will very likely continue this throughout the rest of the OWLP scheme – if you are interested to obtain hands-on experience in managing a very varied heritage project, let me know.

Related articles:

cropped-wwt-welney-flooded-copyright-philip-colmer-istock.jpg

How it all works

Heritage Lottery FundMy name is Anna Growns and, like Peter Stroud (see here for his previous post) I am also working as a summer placement volunteer for the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership Scheme.  Now in my second week I think I can safely say that I am beginning to get a feel for it all!  The scheme brings together a wide variety of projects, and it is fascinating learning more about what makes the Ouse Washes such a unique landscape.  There is so much to find out, and I am becoming aware of how little I really know about the area where I live – my reading list grows by the day!

I am currently focusing on water management in the area, which is of particular interest to me as I am hoping to work towards a career in flood risk management.  On Monday I visited the Denver Sluice Complex.  The morning started with a talk given by Dan Pollard, who works for the Environment Agency, based at the Denver Sluice Complex.  His job involves monitoring river levels and adjusting the sluices accordingly.  I also met John Martin, a local farmer who owns land immediately adjacent to the Ouse Washes.  He was involved in both the 1987 refurbishment of the Denver Sluice, and the Welmore Lake Sluice (which is now also known as the John Martin Sluice).

It was interesting to hear about the potential conflicts between those who use the area; farmers, conservationists, anglers and boaters, amongst others.  I will discuss these issues in more detail at a later date, but for now all I’ll add is that there is no perfect solution to managing the area, but perhaps by working together to understand the problems, a fairer outcome could be achieved.

P1000549

Dan Pollard (Environment Agency) explaining the complexity of managing the Denver Sluice Complex and its many waterways.

Anyway, I mustn’t get side-tracked – back to Denver Sluices!  Denver Sluice is just one of several in the area that make up the Denver Sluice Complex.  They play a vital role in controlling river levels, and are successful in stopping the low-lying fenland from flooding.  I suppose before discussing the sluices it makes sense to begin with a wider look at the function of the Ouse Washes.  The diagram below shows the area from Earith in the south to Downham Market in the north.  The Ouse Washes lie between the New Bedford River to the east, and the Old Bedford/River Delph to the west.  As previously mentioned in this post, these channels were created as part of Vermuyden’s scheme to drain the fens.

Ouse Washes overview

Ouse Washes overview: geography and names of main channels. Source: http://www.ousewashes.info/maps/washes-lrg.jpg

The first channel, the Old Bedford River, was cut in 1630, and the second, the New Bedford River or Hundred Foot Drain, was constructed 20 years later.  As can be seen from the diagram, this considerably shortens the route that water takes from Earith to Downham Market on its journey to the sea (where previously the water would have followed the course of the Great Ouse River to the east), thereby diverting water from the surrounding fenland and discharging it more quickly.

The purpose of having two parallel channels was to create a huge flood storage area, i.e. the Ouse Washes, which protects the surrounding land from flooding.  To put it very simply, when there is too much water in the River Great Ouse the water is allowed to flow onto the washes, normally through the Earith Sluice and the Old Bedford River, and stored there until it can be discharged.  The following diagram explains in more detail how this works (see also this previous post):

blogwashes-schematic_jpg

Schematic layout of the Ouse Washes flood system. It also shows the relatively few crossings over the washes. Source: Environment Agency and http://www.ousewashes.info. Click on the map to enlarge.

Next time I will look in more detail at particular aspects of how this system works.  More information on water management in the Ouse Washes can be found at the following useful websites: ousewashes.org and ousewashes.info

Join our Team: Summer Placements with Ouse Washes scheme

Heritage Lottery FundCambridgeshire ACRE is looking for volunteers who would like work experience as a summer placement, to assist with the development of the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership Scheme.

Are you looking to forge a career in environmental, community, landscape or heritage management? Look no further – a summer placement will give valuable experience and will give you that head start when it comes to applying for jobs in the sector.

Would you be successful, you will be working with a small team of experienced Cambridgeshire ACRE staff and will benefit from on-the-job mentoring across a number of different elements of the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership scheme. There will be fieldwork including interviewing members of the public about their visitor experiences, as well as desk-based work to record data and to write up consultation findings. You will be actively involved with a wide partnership which includes national conservation organisations such as the RSPB and WWT.

To find out more, please visit the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership scheme at the Cambridgeshire ACRE website, from which you can also download the job specification, or download the job spec directly here:

Summer Placement

The final closing date for applications is 30 June 2013, although we urge people to come forward as soon as possible, as we will be assessing applications when they come in.

I am looking forward to hear from you. Any questions? Just contact me.

 vacant seat