I have a confession to make: I’m an incurable enthusiast. Tell me about a new venture and I’m sure to clamber aboard. So when, during a visit to a WWT centre, a member of staff suggested I should volunteer, I was something of a pushover. That was how I joined WWT Slimbridge over five years ago: with novice-level birding knowledge, lots of transferable skills and a bucketful of enthusiasm.
There are many departments within a WWT centre that need volunteers. I joined the Welcome Team for one day a week. Our tasks involve welcoming visitors to the centre, and providing guided walks and talks about our animals. We’re out in the grounds to help visitors enjoy themselves – and hopefully they leave wanting to come back again.
Five years is long enough for the novelty to have worn off, so how do I feel as an established volunteer? I still find the day-to-day tasks in the Welcome Team enjoyable. In fact, Slimbridge is always developing and improving, so we often need to change things and take on new ideas. We also get involved in projects and initiatives away from the “day job” – there’s little time to get bored!
Predictably, when I first heard about Slimbridge’s bid for Heritage Lottery funding, I was excited enough to put my name forward for that too. So now I am also involved in a subgroup that works on the volunteering and training aspects of our new project.
My experience of Slimbridge is that you can be useful and help make a difference, wherever you volunteer – it certainly goes down as one of my better decisions!