Inspired by volunteering at CAT nearly 20 years ago, Josie Redmonds has gone on to set up a wide range of educational community and schools projects in Malawi.
We have a position available to join CAT’s vibrant media and marketing department. It is a chance to develop a broad range of skills including writing, film making, photography, social media, interviewing, research and marketing skills. Robyn is just coming to the end of her placement, so what has her experience been like? Scroll down for more details and to apply.
I’ve been working in the media and marketing department for 5 months and the time has unfortunately come to pass the baton and invite someone new to the team.I started working here around the first of November and its been non-stop go!
I’m from a planning background interested in urban communities and sustainable retrofits with little knowledge of the marketing world, its acronyms and online databases. But after a couple of weeks, there’s no question about it, you become quite addicted into finding out the ‘click-throughs’ and the analytics of the work you’ve posted. At CAT theres never a dull moment, ”a TV crew tomorrow”, ”a conference today”, ”a crazy big storm on the way”, the opportunities are endless and you can work in any medium you like, be it videos, blogs, interviews or photography. Once a week volunteers can help out in another department or work on a personal project (although this isnt strictly monitored). During this time I either jumped in the gardens learning organic gardening from ‘gardening guru’ Roger, or ventured into the woods sawing, carving and weaving with woodland manager Rob.
With Spring pushing through (fingers crossed last year wont repeat) and the smell of summer on its way, CAT is bursting into life, the daffodils are blooming and the visitors centre will soon be reopening. The summer position to work in this department will no doubt be demanding but the pay offs with the in depth knowledge and skills you’ll learn are truly unimaginable.
The biggest benefit to volunteering at CAT is the opportunity get experience working somewhere with 40 years experience at the cutting edge of the environmental movement. Volunteers can also get a free lunch in the CAT restaurant, can claim for travel expenses, can attend two CAT courses (subject to availability) and get a year’s CAT membership for free.
Start Date: April 2014 (Exact start date is flexible)
Deadline for applications: 28th March 2014
Send completed applications to: email@example.com
Volunteers play a vital part at CAT, helping in a variety of departments and gaining useful skills. As CAT is currently recruiting for the next round of Long Term Volunteers (LTVs), we interviewed some of our current volunteers to find out what they have most enjoyed about their time at CAT.
More information about the current volunteering vacancies can be found here. We’re recruiting on a rolling basis.
Fabienne – Water and Natural Resources
I’m learning lots of things every single day about woodland management and biodiversity and about other people’s skills. It’s a once in a lifetime experience!
Burhan – Natural Building Materials
It’s a great working environment, I think I couldn’t find better and the people are very sociable.
Roisín- Water and Natural Resources
You meet people from lots of different places, different backgrounds, with different skill sets who come together to work on something jointly. Some of those people might have lots of experience and lots of skills and others might have none, but they come together to learn new things and all work towards the same common goal.
Iñigo- Water and Natural Resources
I like being involved in the woodland and working outside, being in contact with nature through the work that we are doing and trying to preserve biodiversity. I think it’s a great experience to have and to take some skills and to develop a different view of what you can do with them, and to improve sustainability and to be a change maker in some way.
Drew – Gardens
I love the fact that you can come here with very little knowledge of a certain type of work, gardening, for instance, and you get so much knowledge out of it fulfilment, and you feel like you can go on and do something else now, take it further. And it’s a really friendly atmosphere, full of a lot of very supportive people.
Rachel – Natural Building Materials
I’ve gained some really interesting knowledge of building physics and learnt quite a lot about climate change and architecture. I’ve been part of a really interesting community of volunteers who are all really lovely and who all bring something different.
Riccardo – Site Maintenance
There are all these interesting people who pop out of the woodwork and come to do courses. They’re always really keen to talk to you and to share their knowledge and that’s great.
Richard (not pictured) – Media and Marketing
I chose to volunteer at CAT so that I could learn new skills whilst promoting a cause I felt strongly about in a collaborative, holistic environment. It’s been an unforgettable experience that I will take it with me for the rest of my life!
Steve (not pictured) – Gardens
For me, it’s about learning relevant skills that are going to be useful in the future, It’s a nice place to work and everyone’s friendly.
A report from our wonderful water and natural resources volunteers on the work they have been doing.
Managing the woodland: Coed Gwern is 15 acre woodland managed in a sustainable way by CAT, ensuring and enhancing biodiversity. The spring season is a very important time because many of the migrant birds are coming back to our woodland and life increases after the long stopped of the winter season –bird nesting, trees blossom, etc-.
Throughout the spring we have been making bird boxes and cleaning coppice areas, a special work related with two different protected species: Willow tits and Dormice. A number of areas of the woodland have been prone to flooding and we have been managing this by building dams and ponds, to retain the rainfall. This should help the different bird species (migrants and residents) to nest and find food supply for their chicks and themselves.
However, we don’t just build ponds and dams to slow water down or retain it. Recently we built a small pond in front of the bird hide at Coed Gwern so birds can drink out of it and even maybe bath.
Needless to say that these watery places will just be heaven for species who like getting wet. Pond skaters (these large mosquitoes look alike insects skating over the surface of the water) are usually the first ones to appear, then will come other invertebrates like dragonflies, spiders and frogs.
Monitoring changes: In January 2013 the Water and Natural resource department started an exciting new project involving the local community. The woodland is divided in 24 monitoring points which have been adopted by different people and groups. Through this project we are able to follow changes in the plant and animal life.
We have also been improving the network of paths and walks, placing signs to facilitate a good use of the woodland by visitors.To get involved in the woodland monitoring project contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Spring’s also the time to find out bird nesting sites. So two monitoring routes were chosen and measured (100 meters long each) to survey bird species on a map once a week. This work, carried out over 5 weeks requires bird call and song listening skills as well as identifying birds. This work will enable us to draw up a map of the different nesting sites across Coed Gwern
Art in the woodlands: We have been involved in a biodiversity and arts project, developed by Jony Easterby, to build an artificial pond in the woodland. The pond is designed to be both a natural space for people to enjoy and promote water conservation.
Greenwood crafts: As one of the main activities in the winter and spring months is clearing, it makes perfect sense to use the cleared wood for building gates, fences and splitting logs for firewood next year.
Building Bird hides: In the last two months CAT volunteers have been working in a project to build a bird hide in the slate quarries, old dynamite hut. Wall stones were removed shifted, added, levelled and rubble was taken out of the ground to even it out. Once the walls were at the right height, the wood work came along (timber frame for the roof and planks above the walls and under the roof with openings to make it a proper bird hide). Last but not least it has got a proper metal roof, which provides good shelter for bird-watching and listening, rain and sun. So the bird hide is now up and roofed. We are now working on displays to help visitors identify woodland and field bird species, and benches to just sit and enjoy the different sounds of nature!
Worm research: We have continued with research that started last year into the use of tiger worms and compost toilets for developing countries
For more information on volunteering and working at CAT please check our webiste, we currently have a number of positions open for volunteers.
This week on ZCBlog Sarah Everitt, a long-term volunteer at CAT, describes her work linking between different parts of the CAT team: Education, and Zero Carbon Britain.
Within the first week or so of settling in to the Zero Carbon Britain team I was finding out all about the progress of the research, the schedule for the report and the communications strategy and aims. Having a parent who works in education support I expressed an interest in how we would enthuse young people about ZCB and spread the message through schools. It then became apparent that a gap existed between the researchers who produce the ZCB report and the Education department who inform young visitors and schools about the work that CAT does. Therefore, it was suggested that it would be useful to have someone who could provide a link between the two departments, and I was glad to be appointed the responsibility.
The benefits of creating such a link were obvious, in that Education could tell me what they want or need from ZCB to best convey what ZCB is all about – whether it be to better understand what the scenario portrays and advocates, the science behind it, possible resources and ways to communicate the scenario, or specific information needed to put together accurate and informative ZCB activities.
From the beginning of this project, it’s been clear to me that CAT’s Education team has a lot of enthusiasm and curiosity about ZCB and its importance to society. Deirdre, Ann and Christine have all been working at CAT for over ten years and are lovely people to work with. They already give presentations and a workshop on ZCB, and have a great deal of insight into the key details they would like to put across, their target audience and how their audience may question things.
In the workshop, several types of activities are based around a giant map of Britain. The students can interact with the map and use it to present what they would do towards a ZCB and where. Looking at these existing materials, we compiled a long list of requests for scientific notes, updated information, clearer graphs and diagrams and updated resources. There were also a few questions about the ZCB scenario that they had received from audiences, which I could then enquire about with the appropriate ZCB researcher.
They were very happy to have someone to whom they can direct their questions, and who has more time to help tweak technical and visual details of presentations and resources.
So far I have enjoyed adding notes to their presentations and adding new slides, and as the report is finalised I will continue to update their ZCB presentations. I have found it really interesting to see all the work and enthusiasm that goes into producing the Educational material. Also, in the process I have learnt a lot more about climate science and policy, and the ins and outs of the ZCB scenario.
For example, I have learnt about how the build up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can be explained as the carbon ‘bathtub’ effect. It is like a tub filling with water, where more water flows from the faucet than the drain can take away. And, as the global temperature increases, the size of the drain decreases as current stores of carbon either cannot take in enough to match the rate of emissions or the stores themselves begin to degrade and release carbon. This perpetuates the cycle and increases the rate of temperature change. The ‘bathtub’ effect essentially explains the runaway rate of increase in atmospheric CO2 concentrations – and with humans pumping vast quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere, the current CO2 level is higher than it’s been in at least 800,000 years (NRC, 2010*).
I am looking forward to creating and updating some engaging resources and activity sheets to complement Education’s existing resources and presentations. An example of a type of resource used is maps of wind speed and water depth off UK coasts, with a brief info sheet explaining offshore wind turbines. Using this, high school pupils are asked where they would place offshore wind turbines and how many. This gives an idea of the research behind the scenario. I will create a more accessible map key and put together a more up to date and visually appealing info sheet.
It is great that in the future there will be more opportunities to create educational resources alongside the updated report. I hope that there can always be a person there from ZCB whom can give time to work together with education, and provide them with ZCB information and resource material. An idea for a future resource could be a snazzy, child friendly, information and activity pack provided alongside a presentation or workshop. Pupils could then take home the ZCB vision of the future and perhaps act on or ponder it, or perhaps even just leave in a drawer and rediscover it a few years later – a spark of curiosity reignited. Some will want to find out more about what is happening towards ZCB now, or maybe discuss ZCB with their parents and decide on some things they can do together as a family to help achieve a zero carbon Britain.
I would like to help develop a workshop package that could be sent out to schools, including a whole host of activity ideas and resources that the school could base a non-curriculum day around (perhaps even a ‘A ZCB Future’ day). In this way ZCB could be communicated more widely across the UK, even to schools that haven’t yet heard of or visited CAT. There is great potential for creating this from what education already work with. I look forward to discussing it further with them, and hopefully to begin creating the package alongside CAT’s enthusiastic Education team.
Are you a student, teacher or someone else interested in learning more about CAT’s educational resources on Zero Carbon Britain – or in helping to develop new resources? Contact Sarah at email@example.com with your questions!
*National Research Council (USA) (2010), Advancing the Science of Climate Change. Panel on Advancing the Science of Climate Change.