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An insight into Natural Wight’s Green Army

15 January 2014

Access to Nature, funded by the Big Lottery Fund and run by Natural England, aims to encourage more people to enjoy the outdoors, particularly those who face social exclusion or those that currently have little or no contact with the natural environment.

In this blog, Green Army member Dan Woods, 20, from Ryde, Isle of Wight, shares his experience of volunteering with Natural Wight.

“During my time so far volunteering at Mill Copse – almost three years now – I have learnt plenty of new skills; such as helping to fell trees. We have had a lot of trees to cut down in the area and I’ve learnt that felling trees in the right place can bring more sunlight in to help other new trees and plants to grow and animals to live in Mill Copse.

Young man carries log

Dan Woods volunteers with Natural Wight

“This volunteering opportunity has meant I have developed team working skills, communication skills, learnt how to complete a job and to the required standard and how to use tools correctly.

“I’ve also learned about the importance of conservation of the woodland through working here. By working here I’ve helped to protect the woodland so that the local community can all share and experience it.

“Volunteering on this project means I use my leisure time wisely, can now demonstrate this experience on my CV and this will hopefully be of interest to future employers.

“Volunteering in the outdoors is also a great way to keep fit and work out – for example, just the other day we moved 50 logs – it’s a ‘Green Gym’! It helps you feel motivated, it’s good for your self-esteem and helps you stay positive.

“I’ve met some great people working here and we have a good laugh too. Just being outdoors in the fresh air is great fun even when it has been cold over the winter months. You keep busy all day long and we all enjoy having lunch around the open fire we build. Before you know it, it’s getting dark and it’s time to head back after a full day of working in the outdoors.

“I definitely want to do more volunteering work with Natural Wight’s Green Army in the future and feel like I have come a long way over the past three years. I’m now a pathway trainee which means I have got the chance of a permanent job if one comes up. I’m also on the Green Skills programme and I successfully completed the Green Skills Craft Qualification in Autumn 2011.

‘I’d recommend volunteering for the Green Army to anyone, because it is great way to pick up new skills, do something different and better yourself.

“I’m going to use the skills I have learnt in the future so I can gain the maximum potential out of every single thing I do to help me to achieve all my goals in life.”

Natural Wight is an Access to Nature project on the Isle of Wight that engages 16-25 year olds from a range of disadvantaged backgrounds. It offers them a ‘pick ‘n’ mix’ of outdoor activities and learning opportunities, including practical conservation work along with local community engagement.

Natural Wight’s young conservation volunteers are now known as the Green Army. Visit YouTube for a video giving further insight into Green Army volunteering activity.

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