A GAP year at Preston Montford - by Peter Griffiths
Originally I found out about FSC through my head of Geography at Shrewsbury Sixth Form College, who strongly recommended trying to get a job at PM for someone having a gap year prior to studying geography or any environmental science at University (like myself)… so I feel very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to gain experience in the sector that I intend to work in after I finish my studies, and even more so to have been given that opportunity at a field centre as special as PM.
I started working here on September 29th, as a Supporting Education Assistant, and have gained a range of different skills and experience having worked in Housekeeping, Maintenance, and primarily in Education.
Running the shop for a big portion of my time here has given me experience in enterprise, which I would have never expected, as well as other more environmental and education-based responsibilities I’ve had such as data collection through met readings, Moth trapping, Butterfly transects etc. I have also had opportunities to assist teaching groups on and off site, which I have found very enjoyable and beneficial. Furthermore, at the end of my time here I feel I have grown as a person in a number of ways and have gained invaluable experience and knowledge on how to conduct myself in the work place. For example, I can confidently say that I show a lot more forward thinking qualities such as not necessarily needing to be asked to do something when it needs doing and generally being able to be relied upon to get jobs done, and these are qualities that I hope I can take forward to later life and future jobs.
As well as gaining experience and knowledge through jobs on centre, through the responsibilities I’ve been given, and the infectious enthusiasm from staff at PM my interest in the environment and wildlife around me has grown vastly. Having lived in the countryside all my life I have grown to take a lot of it for granted in everyday life, but through working here it has taught me to appreciate it more and look at things differently. Moreover on centre I have built my own bird box that I installed within the grounds (please don’t ever cut down the tree that it’s on!), and a very flimsy looking bird feeder, which surprisingly enough does seem to do the job! Additionally, a couple of weeks ago FSC funded me, as well as Staci and Kirsty, to attend a beginner’s Moth ID course with Dave Grundy, which was a very enjoyable and informative weekend and such a unique opportunity that I would never have expected to get during my year here. Furthermore, I find myself at home or on walks in my spare time stopping and trying to identify things such as moths, or listening out for birdsongs with a lot more interest than I would have in the past, and these are certainly not interests I would have developed as much (or at all!) if I hadn’t got a job at PM, so I really am grateful for this.
Throughout my time working here I have been made to feel extremely welcome and at home by all staff, and have made many friends in these nine months. Moreover, as I come to the end of my final week, as well as feeling excited for my month of Interrailing and starting University in September, I also do feel sad to be leaving my job here, which is most definitely not something I’ve felt when finishing at any previous jobs that I’ve had!
Thank you from the bottom of my heart to each and every one of the staff at PM for making my time working here so enjoyable, I couldn’t have asked for a better year of work experience!