Volunteer Spotlight: Poppy Bye

Blog post by Poppy Bye on 12 Mar, 2024
I am a student at the University of East Anglia studying Ecology and Conservation, currently in my third year. I also volunteer at a hedgehog rescue center in Norfolk, where I have been looking after sick and injured hedgehogs and helping to raise awareness for them since 2019. It’s where I developed my love for hedgehogs, which has led me to doing my dissertation research project about their populations across Norfolk as well as trying to find out what their favourite food is!

Poppy holding a hedgehog

Poppy holding a hedgehog

As part of my volunteering at the hedgehog rescue, I have helped with visits to local primary schools to teach young people about this species and what they can do to help them. I really enjoy these school visits and engaging with the public, but especially with young people who are so curious and as excited as I am to be talking about nature. So, when I saw an advert for volunteering with the education and events team at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, I thought this would be a great opportunity for me to have more fun doing this and build my confidence and skills further.

I volunteer regularly at the Hickling reserve doing the monthly Wildlife Watch and Wilder Wardens sessions, and have also done various rock pooling, minibeasting and fossil hunting sessions. More recently, I joined in with my first school visit with NWT, where I got to talk to a class about hedgehogs to help them learn facts to teach their families in a special assembly. I really enjoy all of my volunteering, but especially Wildlife Watch sessions where other volunteers or members of staff join us to talk about their areas of expertise because I get to learn more too!

Volunteering with the NWT has helped me in many ways, one being building my confidence in delivering my own talks to audiences – it helps that I always get to talk about things I’m passionate about! Volunteering with the Wilder Learning Team especially is so enjoyable as I’m always getting to learn and have new experiences. I would definitely recommend volunteering with the NWT. Everyone I have worked with, staff and other volunteers, are so friendly and happy to be doing what they’re doing so I always come away from a day of volunteering feeling positive.

Poppy holding a hedgehog

Poppy visiting a local primary school

I have met so many different people through volunteering, from species experts that I get to learn from to young people with lots of questions for me. I’d particularly like to mention the team at Hickling, both in the visitor center and those out on the reserve, they’re great people to work with!

It feels like I leave every event with new knowledge and a curiosity to go and learn more about what we’ve been doing. But, if I had to choose something that I find particularly educational for myself it would be the reserve management skills I learn alongside our Wilder Wardens. I’d never done much hands-on, practical conservation and management before except for if you count helping my dad in the garden when I was younger. But in the year Wilder Wardens has been running, we’ve already done so much. I am particularly pleased with the benches we built for Hickling, as now we have comfier seats to use during our sessions here!

Header image: Poppy at a Wilder Wardens event
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