As part of our #Volunteersweek celebrations, we wanted to share with you some of the stories from our very own RSPB volunteers. With almost 2000 volunteers helping in the South East alone, we can achieve much more for wildlife with their help than we ever could alone!

 "I’ve been volunteering with the RSPB since 2013 helping to prepare the volunteers newsletter. 

Last year I started browsing volunteering opportunities on the RSPB website, wondering if I could do more. Having small children I’ve been a bit limited in volunteer roles, but I was so excited when I came across the schools outreach project – enthusing children about nature, which is something I try to do with my own kids all the time, and only in school hours – it was the ideal role for me!

I’ve now been working for the project since March 2016, initially helping run sessions with the Schools Outreach Officer and then running them on my own. We offer three sessions: Bioblitz, where kids get outside with magnifying glasses and binoculars and find as much wildlife as they can; Giving Nature a Home, where they plot wildlife habitats on a map of their school grounds and think about how they could provide more; and Big Schools Birdwatch, which runs alongside the Big Garden Birdwatch. All of the sessions start with a presentation in the classroom: a wonderful video showing the diversity of British wildlife, which always has them oohing and aahhing, shouting out the names of animals they recognise.

This is followed by a short chat about the importance of nature and how they can help encourage biodiversity in their school and home. Then we get them outside, which is the main event, and they’re always really excited about it.

The role is so rewarding. You might think London kids wouldn’t be that fussed about nature, but I’ve found quite the opposite. I’ve been to schools in a variety of places, some very leafy and some much more inner city, and the kids are all excited to be exploring in nature. Sometimes their teachers apologise that they’re running a bit wild, but when a kid is racing back and forth, not sure whether they’re more excited about the caterpillar they want to show me over here or the ants’ nest their friend has found over there, it always makes me smile.

 Of course, some lucky kids do this stuff all the time. ‘I go bug hunting every weekend with my dad’ one boy proudly told me – and he knew his stuff! But for many children the sessions give them a chance to connect with nature in a way that they’re not always used to. ‘I never knew there were so many things living here!’ and ‘How soon are you coming back?’ are things I often hear. Another popular one, and one of my favourites, is ‘When I grow up I want to do what you do’. I think there’s no doubt that the RSPB schools outreach programme is helping to set children off on a journey of discovery. Our hope is that the schools will continue the connection with nature, for example through our Wild Challenge activities, and also that the kids themselves will go home with a renewed desire to start poking around under rocks in their local parks and gardens, and think about the little steps they can take to give nature a home in their own urban spaces."

To find out about our volunteering opportunities near you visit our website.