In the summer of 2018, I completed a week of work experience at the BCT’s London headquarters. The Bat Conservation Trust is an NGO with a network of regional groups across the country, all working to monitor and conserve bats. Here is my recollection of the experience:
While my first few minutes were spent staring up at the BCT’s top floor office, wondering if I was lost, I finished my four days of work experience at the BCT with a new set of skills and some very valuable knowledge of bats!
My first day included entering data for the National Bat Monitoring programme. This is where hundreds of volunteers go out to count the number and record the species of the bats in their local area. It was amazing to sort through the surveys filled out by people all over the country with the same passion for the UK’s bats. The data from individuals really does add up to create a greater picture of how each bat species is fairing.
The next day my presentation skills were put to the test as I was tasked with creating the map and visual statistics for data about the species, spread and roost sites of the bats in the East Midlands. It’s safe to say I had never experienced turning pure numbers into squares on a map before, but I was very happy with the result!
Throughout the week I also helped edit the Bat News and wrote a short article for the Bat Monitoring Post about bat friendly streetlights in the Netherlands, although I enjoyed practical tasks even more. An example is creating bat packs to send to members of the public, which hopefully helped lessen the workload of the incredibly hardworking National Bat Helpline team. These packs will later allow scientists to identify the species of bats in that area and in the future.
I spent my last say at the BCT increasing my knowledge about the UK’s bat species, including their calls and shapes. Not long after, I remember sharing my knowledge on a bat walk during Action For Conservation's summer camp in Wales, including playing bat quizzes and watching the Greater horseshoe (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum) bats swoop over our heads as they exited their roosts.
Planning in progress and looking to the future
Since my time at the BCT, I’ve been involved in more of the planning side of the conservation sector starting with the London Wildlife Trust’s Young People’s forum in 2019. This showed me that young people are being given a voice for change in the environmental sector. Another highlight was attending the national bat conference as part of BatFest in 2020. I really enjoyed the virtual bat walk and the drawing session. It was good to get so many people together to celebrate even if it was over zoom!
More recently I was on the Natural History Museum’s Youth Advisory Panel and studying biology at university. I am considering a future in field research. However, no matter where I end up, I know I’ve got a basis of practical skills from my previous experiences, the BCT was a great opportunity to get started, so thanks to all the staff that helped make it happen!
Thanks for reading,