Life as a trainee at Lower Sharpham Farm

For the past nine weeks, we have been joined by eight lovely conservation trainees here at Lower Sharpham Farm. They are sadly nearing the end of their traineeships, with only three weeks left before they head home for Christmas.  Iris Golsteijn, from the Netherlands, tells us about her time as a nature conservation trainee so far…

“The last weeks felt like a tornado for me. I had to go abroad for a couple of weeks, but I am not that kind of person who likes to go on an adventure. Ambios gave me the opportunity to travel to the United Kingdom and I became one of their trainees. Together with 8 other students and 2 volunteers I began my adventure. I love to live in the community, because during this time we have become a very close group.

I have learnt so much during the nine weeks I have been here. The programme for trainees has a huge variety. One moment you are quite busy with identifying plants, and another day you are training your English to bring it up to a higher level in a creative way. The lessons I loved the most are about identifying new species of plants and animals, especially birds. I already had a biological background, but I notice that I am still growing in my knowledge about different species during the last weeks.

The programme is put together in a nice way. There is a good balance between theory and practical stuff. Mostly the daily schedule looks as follows: During the morning you spend your time inside the classroom and in the afternoon you go out into the field to improve your fieldwork skills.

Lower Sharpham Farm is an organic farm. They grow their own vegetables and keep a lot of animals. As an autumn trainee your main responsibility is to take care of the chickens and the ducks. What I like the most is when you come in the morning to open the doors, and all the chickens start running to get out of the henhouse and into the field.

Once a week we are working with the people from United Response (a charity that supports adults with learning difficulties). Together we take care of the chickens, the lambs and the vegetables in the garden. Until now I only took care of the  garden in which we grow vegetables. I liked that very much, simply because I wanted to learn more about gardening and especially growing vegetables. I can also use this knowledge after my return to the Netherlands.

Regularly we go on an excursion with the group interns.  We went to Dawlish Warren by train once. The reason we went over there is to wath the water birds and the unique dune landscape. Next week we will visit  Dartmoor National Park and I am very curious which excursions will follow in the last few weeks we have left.”