A valuable experience: life as a World Land Trust intern SEARCH NEWS

Photograph of Ruth Stanton-Saringer at Kites Hill. © WLT / Charlotte Beckham.

Ruth Stanton-Saringer looks back over six months as a World Land Trust intern.

I joined World Land Trust (WLT) in October 2012 on a six month Project Development Internship designed to provide experience of work in all aspects of an international conservation charity.

During my first few weeks, as different members of staff introduced me to their work and began to suggest areas I could get involved with, I said the phrase ‘that sounds really interesting’ so many times I started to worry they would think I had a limited vocabulary!

Nonetheless, the more I learn about WLT the more interesting I find the work, and the more impressed I am by what WLT has done, and is continuing to do, to protect threatened habitats. I especially admire the Trust’s philosophy of always working with overseas project partners. Using local expertise makes perfect sense and working with in-country NGOs and communities is undoubtedly the best way to ensure the long-term sustainability of any project.

The internship is outstanding for the breadth and depth of the opportunities offered. Based in the Trust’s busy office in Halesworth, I was involved in a range of activities from researching and writing pieces on key animal species for the website, to helping collate information and updates on the projects for inclusion in the annual reviews for Trustees.

A new element to the internship in 2013 gave me the chance to spend a few days at the RSPB Minsmere reserve gaining practical conservation experience. When I was first told of this opportunity I was excited but had reservations. I had enjoyed practical work in the past but my experiences had been mostly limited to the tropics where staying cool is one of the main challenges. Not often a problem in East Anglia in January. Fortunately my family gave me a full set of thermals for Christmas so I was well prepared!

Some of the most valuable experience I gained was from attending a wide range of meetings, both at the office and off site in Cambridge, London and at the University of East Anglia. This was one of my favourite aspects of the internship and the collective expertise of WLT staff meant that this was a great learning experience. These meetings gave me an excellent insight into how conservation projects are developed, run and assessed, and I saw practical demonstrations of communication with people from a diverse range of organisations and backgrounds.

Accompanying Charlotte Beckham, Conservation Development Assistant, on a site visit to Kites Hill reserve in the penultimate week of the internship brought together the knowledge and experiences I had gained over my time as an intern. In managing Kites Hill, WLT works in partnership with The Conservation Volunteers with input from local people. As such, Kites Hill provides an excellent, practical demonstration in the UK of how the Trust’s partnerships around the world operate and why they are successful. At Kites Hill I saw for myself how well WLT works with local organisations, communities and individuals who are best placed to look after the land.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with World Land Trust, it has been professionally and personally challenging in very positive ways and provided an experience that will be invaluable to my future career. I feel privileged to have had this opportunity and I will continue to take an active interest in the work of the Trust after I have left.

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