Thanks to our amazing volunteers!

It’s been a difficult year for our volunteers, supporting us throughout a pandemic and all the challenges this brought, especially for our European Volunteers.

This Volunteers’ Week (1-7 June), we'd like to recognise and say a massive thank you to all of our amazing volunteers, and the fantastic contribution they have been making for nature throughout this unprecedented year.

Living Seas Volunteer Student Placements

This year Callum Neill, a voluntary Queen’s University placement student, supported the work of our shark and skate conservation project Sea Deep. Although this year presented many obstacles, Callum rose to the challenge. Working with shark tagging and egg case data, Callum created distribution maps that have helped us better understand the trends of shark species around our coast.  Callum also played a key role in creating engaging educational content for our social media channels, helping raise awareness of these endangered and often misunderstood species in our waters.  

Alesha Doyle has been helping our marine team with surveys around the coast to increase intertidal species records, and has been using her excellent ID skills to verify records submitted by other volunteers.  

It has been a difficult year but it would have been even more challenging for the Sea Deep project and Living Seas team without the hard work of Callum and Alesha that has continued to help us safeguard the future of local marine species.

Callum Neil, QUB Placement Student with the Sea Deep team

Callum Neil, QUB Placement Student with the Sea Deep team

Peatland Volunteers

Wet feet and winter days did not put off the amazing volunteers of the Lough Neagh Landscape Partnership who provided invaluable support to us at Peatlands Park.

Rhododendron control on the park’s internationally important raised bogs was the main focus of their work. They also tackled another exotic invader – pitcher plant, a South American species, which can take over large areas of bog.

With their help, Ulster Wildlife staff working on the INTERREG CANN (Collaborative Action for the Natura Network) project were able to tackle these invasives across large areas - we could not have done it without them.

Special mention to students Catherine Auld, Joel Whitall, Lauren McRoberts and Yamini Kanse. And many thanks to LNLP volunteer co-ordinator Lisa Critchley.

LNLP Volunteers at Peatlands Park

LNLP Volunteers at Peatlands Park

Grassroots and Our Bright Future Volunteers

The Grassroots Challenge and Our Bright Future (OBF) team at Ulster Wildlife are very proud this year of the efforts of the young people with whom we are privileged to work with through Young Farmers Clubs, DofE groups, special schools and our OBF Youth Forum Throughout, what has been a very difficult year, they have been an inspiration, creatively working within Covid restrictions to make a difference for nature.

Some groups learned conservation skills, others advocacy procedures via Zoom. Working at home in isolation they demonstrated teamwork and resilience to see their projects through. There are too many to highlights to mention; examples include creating videos for a #LearnMoreOutdoors campaign, improving gardens for biodiversity, building habitat boxes, helping citizen science projects, writing blogs and collecting litter. A huge thank you for all the hard word they have achieved. 

Youth volunteers involved with Grassroots and Our Bright Future

Youth volunteers involved with Grassroots and Our Bright Future

European Solidarity Corps Volunteers (ESC)

Our ESC Volunteers have endured a really tough year, living and working so far from home throughout the pandemic and lockdowns.  They’ve come and worked tirelessly every day helping our Nature Reserves Team maintain our 19 wild places across the country, throughout all weathers and always wearing a smile.  Thank you from all of us for your hard work and dedication! 

You can read more about their adventures on Monica’s fortnightly blog

ESC Volunteers

Species Volunteers

A big thank you to all our volunteers that help with the ongoing conservation work for barn owls and red squirrels.  

Ive, one of our ESC volunteers from France, has been volunteering on the barn owl project since September 2020 and has adapted extremely well, despite being here during a pandemic and several lockdowns. She has proved invaluable to the project by being our ‘go- to’ for any GIS work. She has also helped out with lots more of the species work including red squirrels and hedgehogs, and getting stuck in on our nature reserves. We have been out across Northern Ireland visiting farmers, providing landowner advice and erecting barn owl boxes, as well as petting lots of dogs. Hopefully she will get to finally see a barn owl in Northern Ireland this summer! Thanks for all your hard work Ive. 

Katy, with barn owl volunteers Ronald and Ive

Katy, with barn owl volunteers Ronald and Ive 

Laura Font, Fundraising & Communications Volunteer

A lot of our communications administration work, including blogs like this, webpage and social media updates, would not have been possible without help from Laura, one of our ESC volunteers from Spain. Despite the difficult circumstances this year with limited staff contact, in person training and face-to face public engagement, Laura gave it her best and developed continuously throughout the year. Her help and assistance have been invaluable to our small team and helped us achieve so much this year from online events set-up and webinars to regular social features, such as Nature Notes and Friday Pics. A big thanks to Laura for all her hard work.  

 

Laura Font

Laura Font, Comms & Fundraising Volunteer

David Gibson, Membership Volunteer

David has been a dedicated part of our membership team for a number of years. This past year while we were unable to work together in the office, David went above and beyond, collecting materials and assembling packs from home and then delivering back to the office for us to dispatch. David’s help has been invaluable in keeping the membership materials going out to our new members and keeping our current members connected with our 'Irish Hare' magazine mailings. Volunteers that can help with the administration for our memberships are always welcomed; we benefit greatly from the skills and experience our volunteers have gained in their professional life.

David Gibson

David Gibson, Membership Volunteer

Wildlife Watch Group Volunteers

A big shout out to the amazing volunteers who run local Wildlife Watch groups. The groups continued holding meetings, via Zoom, through lockdown - keeping the children engaged with nature digitally when they couldn't meet in person. Huge thank you to Sydney, Ethel, Cat, Charmaine, Jess and everyone who makes these groups such a success.

Find out more about a Wildlife Watch https://www.ulsterwildlife.org/wildlife-watch

Charmaine Beer, Volunteer Wildlife Watch Leader

Charmaine Beer, Volunteer Wildlife Watch Leader