Students take on Rhododendrons in an exciting new project

A group of keen Newcastle University undergraduates got some first-hand experience of conservation work last week by helping out at Gosforth Park Nature Reserve. The volunteers took part in the time-honoured practice of Rhododendron clearance and learnt about nature reserve management from Paul Drummond, Reserve Warden, and Volunteer Wardens Chris Wren and Des Matheson.

Following an introductory talk which NHSN Director Clare Freeman gave to Newcastle University first year Biology undergraduates last term, a number of the students had expressed an interest in gaining some practical conservation experience. Micaela Mossop, one of the undergraduates, kindly volunteered to co-ordinate student interest and the group was transported to the Reserve thanks to Newcastle University Students’ Union Go Volunteer project.

“We’ve had a lovely time learning about the reserve and hope we’ve helped out too!” said Micaela. “Thank you for having us and we’re all really looking forward to coming back.” 

We would like to thank everyone for making this such a positive day for all involved, but NHSN would particularly like to thank Micaela, without whose keen involvement the day would have been much harder to arrange, and Mike Duckett, NHSN member and project Co-ordinator for Go Volunteer who arranged transport to the Reserve. Mike was a member of the University conservation society many years ago and he appreciates at first hand the value of students gaining practical experience to supplement the academic content of their degrees.

The day’s activity was a pilot for similar tasks which we hope will form part of the Society’s future student engagement activity. We are all looking forward to the second pilot activity which is planned in April.