If you are interested in conservation and helping out local communities, then a great way to spend your holiday break this year is to join a volunteer project. There are hundreds of different projects around, from lending a hand in cleaning up local parks and nature reserves, to travelling to third world countries to give aid and support to those living on and below the poverty line.
Projects that you and your friends can get involved with include volunteering for conservation projects on the various RSPB reserves. This involves a number of different tasks, and with depend on the level of your groups skills, and the type of reserve in your area, but previous groups have helped to build pathways and resting spots along nature walks, painted murals to cheer up RSPB visitor centres and car parks, and cleared ground of bracken to encourage the growth of native plants. You can go to the RSPB website or contact your local reserve to set up a volunteer project, but you may need to provide some of your own materials such as protective gloves or paints, so make sure you factor this into your budget along with travel and food expenses when you are in the planning stages.
I got contacted by Michael Dennis, Volunteering Development Coordinator from RSPB regarding this article and he told me that it’s not the standard practice to ask volunteers to provide their own materials or equipment and they reimburse all reasonable out-of-pocket expenses.
He also asked me to include the following paragraph about RSPB:
A popular way of contributing to conservation work is the RSPB’s Residential Volunteering Scheme. You can stay on one of 40 reserves throughout the UK, for a period from a week up to a year, helping out with all the work that goes into running a reserve – from planting reed beds or cleaning hides, to talking to visitors or helping in the shop. It’s a great way to gain practical work experience, meet new people, explore new areas, help the RSPB’s conservation work, or simply make good use of your spare time while keeping fit in the great outdoors. If you can’t commit to a specific block of time, but would still like to get involved, there are hundreds of other volunteering opportunities with the RSPB. Visit the website at www.rspb.org.uk/volunteering and join the 13,500 other people already giving their time and energy for birds and wildlife conservation.
If you are interested in travelling to new places then there are a number of projects organized by charities around the world that are in need of volunteers to come and give their support. Conservation projects include tropical rainforest preservation in places like the Barra Honda National Park in Costa Rica, or sea turtle and coastal protection along Mexico‘s beautiful coastline. If you have a background in medicine then there are also some very worthwhile medical projects that are run abroad, which need qualified volunteers to provide key healthcare in remote and very poor areas of the world. You can find out more about these sorts of projects on websites like www.projects-abroad.co.uk, or you can go to individual charity and volunteer organisation homepages such as Oxfam, WWF and the Red Cross to see what projects they currently have on offer.
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