Rekindling a Connection With Nature; Charlie’s Student Placement Experience

Charlie Stockley

University Student Charlie Stockley joined our National Trust Studland Bay team in Dorset on placement to get experience working in conservation and public engagement, and found a wealth of unexpected benefits in just five short weeks.

My name is Charlie, and I had the pleasure of being part of the Dynamic Dunescapes project for five weeks as part of a university placement. I am going into my third and final year at Bournemouth University where I am studying Ecology and Wildlife Conservation.

I found the Dynamic Dunes placement on my university website and expressed my interest in being part of the project. From there I had an interview where I had the opportunity to show what I would bring to the project and learnt what the placement is all about. I opted to do the Public Engagement side of the placement as I thought it would give me a chance to learn new skills and challenge myself.

A smiling young man stands in the dunes and holds up a branch from a tree

The placement was an amazing experience and it made me rekindle my love for the environment as the pandemic and online learning made me feel really disconnected to something that I used to be really passion about. The 5 weeks at Studland not only brought back my passion it made me even more passionate than before and opened my eyes to new aspects of the industry that I wouldn’t have shown an interest in before. One of the most rewarding and challenging tasks was leading field trips for schools in the local area. The experience was nerve racking at first but by the end I thoroughly enjoyed it! A similar task was being apart of third-party days, which is when groups/ organizations come in and carry out various conservation tasks.

A group of people stretching in the sand dunes surrounded by dune heather

From a nature perspective Studland is an incredible place and has a plethora of rare and interesting species such as sand lizards, tiger heath beetles and my personal favourite the Nightjar. One of my highlights from the placement was the Plant Purbeck evening where we went out into the dunes in the evening and had the pleasure of seeing Nightjars in their natural habitat.

All in all, this placement was an amazing and eye-opening experience for me, and I couldn’t recommend the placement more highly for students interested in doing a placement.