Natalia won AFC's London 2015 challenge following a workshop in her school. In this blog we find out how she spent her time with Froglife experiencing conservation in action.
My name is Natalia, and I spent the last week doing work experience at Froglife. This amazing opportunity allowed me to learn lots of interesting stuff about amphibians and reptiles. It was truly an adventure that taught me many things and allowed me to develop my skills.
Monday began with a clear introduction to the charity, and the team. I learnt about what Froglife does exactly, how it is run and what are the different roles within the charity. After the introduction I started doing research about all of the different species of amphibians and reptiles. I found out about their life cycles, characteristics, breeding and unique habits that all of them have. When I finally got familiar with the different species, I began working on a Froglife Diary for their online shop. This included matching different photos of species with months, and writing very interesting facts about these animals. I was positively surprised about this day as I started developing great interest in this area, due to all of the research and learning about different species of reptiles and amphibians. It also made me realise how important they were and how important it is to protect them.
Tuesday was a day at the office on which I had to identify a national supermarket called Waitrose in local areas of the ponds and reserves. Waitrose is currently running a project called ‘’Community Matters’’. At the end of shopping at their local branch, customers are gives a token to place in a box to donate to a different cause. The more tokens the charity gets, the bigger the donation. Since its launch in 2008, the scheme has donated £14 million to local charities chosen by the customers. My job was to identify the different branches around the areas where the ponds are, and find out their details and contact information, to allow Froglife to contact Waitrose for a possibility to place the box with tokens for their charity. This allows the customers to donate to Froglife and improve the ponds in their local area. This allowed me to understand more about how the charity works with different brands and how the projects are being funded.
Wednesday was a very adventurous day, which gave me the opportunity to go out to Waterworks Nature Reserve to survey the area. On this day, I have learnt multiple things about the species and their lives. First of all, it was a chance for me to get familiar with the different habitats in which the species live, and what exactly do they look like in real life and how they are used by the animals. Nevertheless, I also learnt how to identify different species and how to tell the difference between a male and a female. Luckily, I got to practise this skill on Smooth Newts and identify their features as we saw a couple of them at the Nature Reserve. Both males and females have greenish-brown upper parts, with a whitish belly and cheeks and an orange streak on the belly, which is more pronounced in males. The body is covered in black spots, which are larger and more obvious in males than females. Females are often more dull in colour and patterning than males.
I also got to learn more about frogs and see them in their own natural habitats. I learnt the difference between a Pool Frog and Common Frog. Both of these species are fairly similar however the Pool Frog that I was lucky to see is easier to identify as they often have a light yellow stripe at the back. Whereas Common Frogs usually have dark patches behind their eyes and blotches of dark striping on the back legs. I was also incredibly lucky to see a Grass Snake in its habitat. This day was full of adventures and learning, and gave me the opportunity to see the species that I have previously researched, in their natural habitats. I also learnt about surveying and its importance.
After coming back to the office, I wrote a blog post about different species of amphibians and reptiles that live in the rainforest, linking back to a video that I have made to win the work experience. This allowed me to develop further understanding about the rainforest and how the species and habitats are different from those that we can find in the UK. Many of the species living in the rainforest are under threat due to climate change, deforestation, as well as the illegal pet trade. This raised my awareness and gave me a chance to share my experiences and research, by writing a blog post about the importance of rainforest conservation for the Froglife website.
Friday was a day for me to say goodbye to the incredible team that I worked with, and finish off any outstanding work from the week. Overall I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity that was given to me. I got to learn a lot about amphibians and reptiles and developed a great interest which got me thinking about what I want to do in the future. I also developed many new skills, met a lot of positive people, and was happy about the fact that it gave me the chance to work at the office and see the ‘back’ side of things, as well as go out to natural habitats and work with the animals.