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Emily’s story – How outdoor volunteering connected me to nature

I have always loved being in nature. It’s rare that a day goes by where I don’t head outside for a long walk. Regardless of what time of day it is, being outdoors helps me feel refreshed, energised, and gives me time to re-connect with the present moment and ground myself.

Whilst studying at university I became interested in the conservation and protection of natural landscapes, so I decided to get involved in local conservation groups during the summer holidays. There are so many opportunities to work outdoors, I was surprised by all the different options available to me when I first joined the project. Whether you prefer tree planting, litter picking, leading walk groups or educational classes, there’s something suitable for everyone’s interests and abilities.

 

You soon realise that although people have different reasons for volunteering, everyone can receive the same benefits for their wellbeing.

I spent most of the summer of 2019 at an RSPB reserve in Suffolk. I arrived a little nervous but was greeted with friendly smiles and warm welcomes. Other volunteers and staff members ensured I felt confident and comfortable, introducing me to the work and tasks.

I was given the opportunity to be involved in different kinds of work, from protecting the nests of coastal birds to leading education groups for younger children. Whilst volunteering I felt like I was a part of a real team effort to promote the use of natural spaces, while also protecting it. It’s great to see the collaboration and passion involved. As you see the work progressing, it’s extremely rewarding, and it feels great to be a part of it.

Outdoor volunteering seemed to tick all the boxes for me – you’re giving time to a good cause, learning new skills, appreciating your environment, all while meeting new people. I couldn’t help but feel positive and notice a boost in my mood, even when outside in the pouring rain. The support you receive from others is amazing. You are also able to see new sights and observe nature from a different viewpoint, as you start to understand the work behind protecting wildlife and why it’s so important.

Outdoor volunteering seemed to tick all the boxes for me – you’re giving time to a good cause, learning new skills, appreciating your environment, all while meeting new people. I couldn’t help but feel positive and notice a boost in my mood, even when outside in the pouring rain. The support you receive from others is amazing. You are also able to see new sights and observe nature from a different viewpoint, as you start to understand the work behind protecting wildlife and why it’s so important.

It’s nice to invest time into something that helps you feel good, whilst helping the environment thrive too. My experiences have pushed me out of my comfort zone, allowing me to pursue new opportunities.

Since RSPB, I have continued to volunteer with conservation organisations in and around London. Each has its own feel to it, but I’ve enjoyed working on every single project. Outdoor volunteering has helped to improve my confidence, knowledge, and appreciation for the natural world. I would highly recommend it to anyone who would like to engage with their local community in a supportive environment.