A Day In The Life…. of a Dales Countryside Trainee
October 4, 2011
One of YDMT’s most innovative and life-changing projects is the Dales Countryside Trainee scheme.
In the Dales it’s becoming increasing difficult to find people with skills necessary for the long term care of our upland environment. Combined with this we’re seeing a dramatic loss of 16-24 year olds as rural communities try to adapt to rapidly changing economics.
So in June 2010 YDMT launched the Dales Countryside Trainee scheme to help meet the urgent needs of young people and to bridge the gap in local skills and knowledge.
In summer 2010 twelve young people started on a programme of vocational training in environmental and countryside management across the Dales. Over the next two years they will gain valuable experience in a 22 month placement with a local employer, learning from skilled practitioners. They will also study for a Level 2 Qualification in Environmental Conservation at Craven College.
One of our trainees is Becky Burton who is carrying out her work placement at the National Trust site Fountains Abbey; a huge estate comprising of the abbey ruins, and 800 acres of natural countryside near Ripon. She has kindly taken a few minutes out of her day to tell us a bit about what she’s been up to…
October marks a change of the seasons at Fountains Abbey – the deer park is a perfect example. During the summer I was busy helping with the chain harrowing in the deer park – an important task to renovate the pasture and stimulate new growth. I learnt how to drive the tractor and also had a go with the chain harrows, which seemed enormous!!
Now, as summer draws to a close, I’m involved with the autumn and winter tasks. From October through ’til April we feed the 550 deer in the park a mixture of extra carrots, fodderbeet and hay bales to keep them going. This often involves shovelling 2-4 tons out of the trailer per day in the snow, rain and wind! It’s a job I helped with last winter – just after Christmas the public were invited to watch the feeding of the deer (an event known as ‘on the hoof’), where the deer warden would give a talk and answer any questions whilst a team of volunteers and I fed the deer. By April, the grass should have started to grow and the feeding will be over for the year.
A little while ago John Horrigan (the Deer warden) and I were invited to attend a wardens meeting at Hadriens Wall, at the National Trust property there known as ‘Housesteads’. The property includes 6 miles of wall and a Roman Fort. The morning was spent listening to a variety of presentations, ranging from one on the new consultancy in the National Trust and one to wildlife seen in the area at National Trust properties. In the afternoon we were split into groups and set a challenge; we had make a fire out in the open using materials we’d collected from across the estate. We were given some corn to make into popcorn and some wheat and water to grind down and make bread. We then cleared the site so that no one could tell we had been there and headed home!
Find out more about the Dales Countryside Trainees scheme here.