Category Archives: Environmental Work

Animal Behaviour Research Volunteer – University of Exeter

panda

What were your main duties and responsibilities during the course of your internship?

During my internship I ran 3 of my own research projects. First was the visibility of the red pandas and fishing cats at Newquay zoo. This involved visiting the enclosures 4 times a day and making observations on how many animals were visible and whether or not visitors were present. For the fishing cats this will act as baseline data. The zoo intend to make some improvements to the enclosure and then the new data can be compared to see if there has been any improvement to the visibility. For the red pandas, I observed three view points of the enclosure. My results found a footpath around the side of the red panda enclosure which led to a larger view of the enclosure and a significant increase in the chance of seeing a red panda, but this area was the least visited. Now this information is available to the zoo they can act on it and put up signs to lead visitors to the better view point.

I also continued some training with 4 species of Asian bird, training each species to feed from a different coloured feeding stick. This means if one species needs more food than the others, they can be target fed meeting energy requirements so breeding is more likely to be a success, but without increasing food for all birds which would be an increased financial cost to the zoo.

The final project was some behavioural observations on the same 4 species of birds as they are all due to be moving enclosure in the near future. These observations can be used as baseline data to ensure there are no dramatic changes once they have moved or perhaps even see an increase in activity.

What would you say was your biggest achievement over the course of your internship?

In the labs at uni we do a bit of data collection, but it is really limited by time and we would only have a few hours in the labs a week. I have now gained the experience of a 4 week research project and learnt what its really like be a field-based research scientist.

What benefits did your internship bring to your employer?

The data I have collected is going to be used in multiple future projects and the bird training I did has the potential to save money on expensive wax moth larvae that is fed to the breeding birds. Also increasing the visibility of the Red pandas and Fishing cats will increase visitor satisfaction and potentially lead to more people coming to the zoo.

Did you encounter any problems during the course of your internship and if so, how did you overcome them?

On my first week my supervisor was away at a conference and after meeting 3 times prior to my start date I still had to undertake some pilot studies on my first day. I then had to make an executive decision as to which data collection methods were used as he was in Malaysia and I was therefore not able to contact him.

Environmental Education Assistant – Royal Parks Foundation

park

What were your main duties and responsibilities during the course of your internship?

I was involved in the everyday running of an environmental education holiday club in the borough of Kensington and Chelsea, London/ The Lookout, part of the Royal parks foundation education programme at the Lookout, Hyde Park.
This gives city children the opportunity to explore what the outdoors has to offer.
Tasks included:
-Supporting Ecology Centre staff with delivery of school sessions and holiday activities.
-Preparing equipment and resources for use, and ensuring they are maintained and stored correctly after use.
-Assisting with the day-to-day running of the centre, including daily set up and animal care.
-Maintaining the Ecology Garden and Edible Forest Teaching Garden, e.g. through planting and weeding.
-Supporting Ecology staff with organising and delivering the events programme and smaller activities for visitors.
-Welcoming and engaging visitors to the centre.
-Supporting other Ecology projects within the park and local community.

What would you say was your biggest achievement over the course of your internship?

My biggest achievement was being confident enough to make suggestions alongside the work I was being asked to do. Because of this I feel as though I’ve been able to have a small influence and put my stamp on some of the programmes at these centres. One example, included suggesting there should be an education display in one of the class
rooms, and I then took on the task to complete that. I was very proud of the result.

What benefits did your internship bring to your employer?

I was able to be an extra help during the busy holiday period, mainly by preparing for lessons, laying out equipment and then taking an active involvement in the sessions with young people. I was also able to be a help with a huge amount of admin tasks for the Royal Parks foundation as their fundraising half marathon approaches in October. This was great to be involved in as the run raises money for the parks education programmes.

Did you encounter any problems during the course of your internship and if so, how did you overcome them?

It wasn’t a huge problem, but I did learn a lot about time management when it comes to commuting on the London tubes. There is a lot of unreliability, so making sure I was on time and ready for work was sometimes made difficult by cancelled trains.

Research Assistant (Ecology and Conservation) – University of Exeter

02

What were your main duties and responsibilities during the course of your internship?
I assisted in a variety of laboratory tasks, including the organisation and curation of field samples and preparation of samples for analysis. I also had to provide research support in the form of literature reviews, collation and curation of data sets. I provided general administrative support within the group. This included organising and timetabling meetings, processing of expense claims, Booking travel and accommodation for field trips and conferences.

What would you say was your biggest achievement over the course of your internship?

Learning and putting to use new lab skills and successfully managing my workload priorities.

What benefits did your internship bring to your employer?

I supported the research group by organising group meetings, collating data and taking on lab tasks such as processing field samples. I also reconciled Professor Bearhop’s expenses and organised his travel to and from work engagements and field trips in the UK and abroad.

Did you encounter any problems during the course of your internship and if so, how did you overcome them?

Whenever I had a problem I asked the supportive people in my office for advice and when I had issues with miscommunication I had a meeting with my line manager to clear up the misunderstanding.