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What is it like to be a Ranger?

A look back on some case studies from our Young Volunteer Rangers

26th January 2017

Once again, Northumberland National Park are looking for volunteers to sign up to our highly successful Young Volunteer Ranger programme.

Now in its fifth year, the programme is ideal for anyone aged 16 to 25 with an interest in pursuing a career in the environmental or countryside sectors.

Each year, our Young Volunteer Rangers work alongside our Ranger Team and get actively involved in the care and management of the Park, including its sites, woodlands and nature reserves.

As the application process for our 2017 programme launches, we thought we would take a look back at some case studies written by volunteers from previous years programmes.

Autumn 2016

My experience with Northumberland National Park by Anna Robe

Why did I choose to apply for this placement?

I am a student at Newcastle University currently studying Countryside Management and I recently completed a 10-day work placement with the Northumberland National Park. This placement was a fantastic opportunity for me as it allowed me to gain vital work experience.

What did I learn from my time with the NNP Rangers?

During my placement, I worked with some amazing people who taught me new skills and knowledge. I gained experience in different aspects of the work carried out in the park. The placement gave me the opportunity to work outdoors and allowed me to gain confidence working with volunteers and the public. I helped to maintain areas for community use and access, assisted in taking surveys and participated in National Park events.

I really enjoyed taking part in the events that the park held. I loved working with the public, teaching families about the wildlife and environment around them. I especially loved the arts and crafts aspect of events as the parents and children who participated were really interested and got really involved.

Working with one of the rangers I got to complete waxcap surveys. I enjoyed learning about waxcaps and the habitats that they are found in. It was very interesting learning how to identify them from their different features and characteristics.

I particularly enjoyed leaning about Public Rights of Way and Promoted Routes within the park. I have been learning about Public Rights of Way and Promoted routes at university and my practical experience has helped enhance my learning and understanding of this subject. The practical part of the placement allowed me to gain outdoor practical experience and improved my hands-on skills.

My experience was very rewarding and made unforgettable by the people I worked with. I believe in your vision of creating a rich, thriving, biodiverse working landscape. I aspire to work for the Northumberland National Park because I think the work you do is remarkable and I have loved being a part of it. Thank you again for this amazing opportunity.

Anna Robe Young Volunteer Ranger

Anna Robe during her Young Volunteer Ranger placement

Spring 2016

My experience with Northumberland National Park by Ed Harrison

Why did I choose to apply for this placement?

Between 2009 and 2012 I volunteered with the Young Ranger Project in Seahouses, and this experience really kindled my interest in conservation. Since then, I have made it my goal to one day work as either a Ranger, or in a similar job. I was notified of this placement by my Countryside Management tutor Joe Gilhespy, and it seemed an ideal opportunity to gain experience and see what a Ranger’s job really entailed. In addition, I felt it would also complement my college course nicely, as the course mainly focuses on the theory and academic side of conservation, and opportunities to get ‘out and about’ are limited.

I enjoy working outdoors in a conservation setting – it gives me a chance to meet new people, give back to the NNP (which I regularly use for recreation), and to get out in the countryside and make a difference. I felt this placement would involve all of these things, making it perfect me.

Finally, this placement sounded like a great opportunity to build upon existing skills, such as communication, problem solving, and being a team player. It would also allow me to gain experience with the modern technology used by the Ranger team, such as GIS and GPS, which it is important to know about if I’m to apply for countryside related jobs in the future.

What did I learn from my time with the NNP Rangers?

I was able to learn a great deal during my time with the Ranger team, and obtained fantastic first-hand experience of what it is that a Ranger does. This was an important part of the placement for me, as being a Ranger is my intended career path and it is therefore essential that I know what I may be getting myself into, and that it is the right role for me. The team also introduced me to alternative career paths, as Ranger jobs are currently few and far between, and there is a lot of competition for the jobs that there are – this encouraged me to continue studying my Countryside Management course, as even if I cannot be a Ranger there are a wealth of other jobs out there that are similar.

The placement also allowed me to complete a 2-day Outdoor First Aid course, and a day using GIS and GPS, and the John Muir Explorer Award. Saying that I have done these things will help my CV stand out when applying for jobs in the conservation and countryside sector. On top of this, I was able to work on my communication, team work, and problem solving skills, and this in turn increased my self-motivation and confidence.

Finally, I was made more aware of the cultural and historic importance of the Park, and what I can do to conserve it. I regularly use the Park for running, hiking and walking my dogs, and I have lived either within or near to it my entire life – it is therefore important to me that is continues to exist for both myself and future generations and this placement gave me the opportunity to help ensure that, and to enhance my knowledge regarding it.

In conclusion, completing this placement has only increased my desire to be a Ranger – the team were friendly and approachable, and were able to impart a great deal of knowledge and advice on me. Getting to know them and other volunteers has really increased the appeal of a conservation role, and I will continue to offer my time for any other volunteer opportunities that crop up. The information and skills I was able to learn on the placement contributed greatly to the Distinction* grade I obtained for my Countryside Management course, and it has given me the confidence to complete the second year of the course.

Ed Harrison during his Young Volunteer Ranger placement

The closing date for Young Volunteer Ranger programme applications for 2017 is 12 noon on Monday 6 February.

To find out more visit: http://www.northumberlandnationalpark.org.uk/about/jobs-training/youth-volunteering/young-volunteer-placements/

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