12 Week Trainees Arrive at Lower Sharpham Farm

Welcome to our first blog post of 2018! We are very excited to have a new cohort of 12 week nature conservation trainees with us, and look forward to sharing their experiences and stories from the farm with you.


Sandra Faulhaber (Germany, top-left)

Hello everybody! My name is Sandra and I am from Germany. My first impressions are that the surroundings are amazingly beautiful. Walking from Totnes (a transition town) to the farm through wonderful nature gives you many good views. You will then be welcomed by truly friendly people, lots of sheep, chicken, hen, ducks, two ponies and a really cute dog. I am looking forward to finding out more about badgers, bumblebees and other animals around this place too. The first week went by really fast and was dedicated by team building, getting to know the farm, making ourselves comfortable in the cosy bunkhouse and eating lots of delicious food. Soon we will go for our first search for wild animals and plants. Let us see what we will find there…

Ruaridh Bandres (U.K., middle-left)

Hi, my name is Ruaridh Bandres, although most people just call me Roo. I’ve been interested in working with animals ever since I saw Steve Irwin wrestle with crocodiles on the T.V. This interest is pretty much what shaped my education, as I always focused on Biology wherever possible, before studying Zoology with Marine Zoology at university. It wasn’t until my third year of university when I had a literary research project on the role and design of marine protected areas, that I began to truly become interested in conservation. Since then however, I have been shaping my experiences and skills towards that direction. Following university, I volunteered on a farm, gaining experience of working with animals whilst looking for jobs in conservation. A year of failure, however, led me to take a hiatus on all things biological as I took a job in manufacturing for three years. I saved up as much money as I could, in order to afford more invested residential volunteering projects. It is thanks to this (and a mad rush at the end of 2017) that led to five weeks volunteering on a reserve in Costa Rica (the new love of my life) and finally the 12 week traineeship here at Sharpham. Where next? Who knows.

Chloe Blasdale (U.K., top-right) 

I’m here at Lower Sharpham Farm because it offered me a much needed opportunity to gain practical conservation skills, that I am currently lacking. It also has the added benefit of allowing me to gain qualifications, depending on the opportunities I choose to pursue. Before coming here, I completed my degree in Natural Sciences via The Open University. During my studies, I initially focussed on human biology before focusing on ecology, environmental and nature modules. The module S295 The Biology of Survival especially reignited the love I developed for nature as a small child growing up in the heart of Leicestershire countryside. I am particularly interested in pollination, an area of research I hope to be involved in during my time here. This was a real highlight of studying the module S295, as it was an embedded residential component of the course which gave me a real insight and catalysed my thirst to pursue conservation as a career. This, however, was the only real experience I had of being out in the field, so I Google searched ‘UK nature conservation traineeship’, and this one delivered through Erasmus+ here in South Devon ticked all the boxes!

Amelie Ziane (Belgium, bottom-left)

My name is Amelie and I am 22 years old from Belgium. Doing a traineeship this year felt like a necessity for me. You see, I have just finished a Bachelor in Geography in my native language (French) and after those three years, I had to decide on a Masters so I could have a specialisation. But here is the problem, there are so many masters in so many different and interesting subjects that I had a lot of difficulty in choosing one. Furthermore, I would like to do my Masters in English, so I wanted time to improve before beginning it. All this made me decide to have a gap year, dedicated to improving English and having more experience to enable me to choose my future path more wisely. While searching for volunteering projects, I stumbled on this three month traineeship and it was the pot of gold. I was thinking of going into biodiversity conservation and ecology, so to be able to real experience in those subjects was as if my wishes came true. So here I am, having just started the traineeship in Lower Sharpham Farm, hoping to see more clearly where to go forward and to learn as much as I can about conservation, myself and life in general.

Silvi Schlötzer (Germany, bottom-right)

My name is Silvi, I’m 21 years old and I’m from Germany. Before I came here, I had not been working or studying in the nature conservation sector. Instead, I completed an apprenticeship in physiotherapy and did various internships in this field. However, my interest in nature and wildlife reaches far back into my childhood, where I grew up in a rather rural part of Germany. I enjoyed being with animals, strolling through the woods etc. After finishing my apprenticeship, I realised that it would not be the job for me to stay with for the rest of my life. I was searching online for European Voluntary Service (EVS) projects, where I eventually found Ambios. I applied because it matched my interests and although I have no prior experience, I feel very welcome here at Lower Sharpham Farm. I am looking forward to the next weeks, to learn a lot about nature conservation, wildlife and animal care.