My year with the Aire Rivers Trust

Abby Carroll
September 22, 2020

As my placement comes to a close and I return to the University of Leeds at the end of September, I wanted to take the time to reflect on my year with ART and all of the opportunities and experiences I have gained, and how I have grown over the last year in my role as a Community Engagement Assistant and STEM Ambassador.

My favourite task

Looking back to my year I have enjoyed and been so proud of what I have achieved I could not just choose one so instead I have chosen 3

  1. One of the biggest achievements I have had was designing and delivering our new schools’ program, River Defenders. I enjoyed doing this as I got to see my vision for the sessions come to life and it was so rewarding to see how excited the children were to both learn and visit the river.
  2. During lockdown I was proud of being able to produce a video to replace our normal talks which highlighted the history of Kirkstall and our DNAire project. The feedback I got from this was incredible and it had over 1.5k views on Kirkstall 1152’s Facebook page!
  3. Lastly I will always remember and have fond memories of our volunteering Fridays, I am proud that I managed to keep spirits high during all weather conditions we faced in the winter months and how much I have contributed to conservation probably planting around 4000 trees, collecting numerous flood debris and litter. Also getting the experience to install leaky dams in the upper Aire.

Challenges I Faced

I think this year we have all had to face challenges adapting to Covid and adapting our normal routines and job roles. Luckily at ART we continued to work, and my placement was not cut short. Although a challenge having to adapt our normal delivery, I enjoyed thinking of new ways for us to connect with others through social media and other platforms. Rather than seeing challenges as a negative thing I see them as being a way to grow my skills and through my placement I have set myself many of these challenges to create displays, videos, leaflets and data collection techniques having to face challenges to teach myself how to use new software or finding suitable ideas along the way.

Things I've Learnt

Through my placement I have learnt the importance and impact of community engagement. It has been a pleasure to work with our volunteers every week and see how much they enjoy and value helping the local area we are in and how much volunteering means to them. It also has been an honour to be able to design and deliver school sessions and hear from parents that their children had spoken about what they had learnt in the classroom mentioning salmon and teaching other members of their family how weirs and fish passes work.

I have also grown and come to see my own skills which I have developed over the last year. I have learnt my strengths such as being creative, being able to engage others, working to deadlines and being passionate and confident about what I am doing. I have also learnt what it is like to work for a small charity in the voluntary sector and I have really enjoyed having this break from university to have a taste of a job in the real world and learn more about what I would like to do in the future with my career.

One thing I would change

Although I am extremely happy with all the opportunities I got this year if I could change one thing about my time at ART it would have been being able to get out and teach more (which was halted due to Covid). I really wanted to be able to keep teaching independently, which I was able to do for 4 classroom sessions but I wanted to be able to get more practice at doing this for my own sense of achievement and capability that I could do it alone. I would also have loved to have spent longer with the Environment Agency to widen my experience in other sectors in case any were to be future career paths.

After a winter filled with volunteering days, I also wish we could have got out in the summer too and enjoyed the sunny days we have had this summer!

Overall, I have loved my time at ART, and thank everyone greatly for the experience and memories.

© Copyright Aire Rivers Trust 2020
The Aire Rivers Trust is a company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales No: 07464227 and a Registered Charity No: 1145609
Registered Office at: 38 Morton Lane, East Morton, Keighley BD20 5RS
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