Guest blog by RSPB Cymru Volunteer, Sian Bettley

 My name is Sian Bettley. I am 14 years old and I have just finished my first three months volunteering with RSPB Cymru. I haven’t volunteered for a charity or organisation before but the RSPB was definitely a great one to work with. I started volunteering to complete my Bronze Duke of Edinburgh award, and I have now decided to do another three months of volunteering so I can gain my Silver and Gold Award.

I had a great experience and got to work with some amazing people and visit lots of beautiful green spaces all over Cardiff, some of which I have not visited before such as, Hailey Park, Heath Park and Lisvane. I was also in close contact with the public, something I have not really done much of before, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I mainly got to work with children ranging from two to 12 and enjoyed some activities such as bird spotting, simple tree identification and pond dipping, to name a few, and it was quite clear the children loved every minute of it.

But I wasn’t just volunteering at outdoor events. I did a sponsored swim and fundraiser with all donations going to the RSPB. It was a great way to start my volunteering by raising money independently in my own time.

If anyone is considering volunteering, I would definitely recommend the RSPB, no matter your age or how much experience you have. You get to attend lots of events, be outdoors and bring more nature into peoples’ lives. But there is one thing every volunteer must know, and that is to be ready for anything. I have been accidently covered in water while carrying a tub full of water; seen a four year old trying to squash the insects we caught; and possibly my favourite, a few passing puppies trying to drink from our pond dipping tub that contained several fish, water boatmen and other pond life! Luckily no puppies or aquatic creatures were harmed.

You also don’t need a lot of experience to be a great asset. In fact I ended up learning more about nature and wildlife than some of the people taking part. I can now indentify many types of insects and pond live that I didn’t even know existed before.

 It’s really easy to get involved and start volunteering for the RSPB. When I realised I wanted to volunteer, I sent off an online application form with my mum, and before I knew it we were getting regular emails about me becoming a volunteer. I went for an enrolment session and got to meet some people I would be working with. Then I was out at events with the general public.

I chose RSPB Cymru for my DofE volunteering as I wanted to be closer to and learn more about nature. The RSPB is also one of the few charities that allow volunteers of my age to be a bigger part of a team, while others only allow fundraising and do not truly involve their younger volunteers. So for that, and for giving young people the chance to show what they can do, I thank RSPB Cymru. I have really enjoyed my first three months of volunteering and I am looking forward to the next few months ahead…

If you would like more information about how you can volunteer for the Duke of Edinburgh Award in Cardiff, please email #WildCardiff / #CaerdyddGwyllt