Out of the classroom and into the forest. When Ellen, a geography student at the University of Birmingham, volunteered on Re:Green she learnt a lot about climate change and the environment which supported her studies. Here she shares her experience from volunteering in Scotland.
I was inspired to take part in Re:Green because I wanted to challenge myself to do something completely different during my university holidays. Re:Green gave me the chance to meet new people and to just get outside into nature after a year of online university.
Re:Green attracted my interest because it offered an opportunity to enhance my university studies in a practical way.
I read Geography at university and my lecturers often highlight the importance of the environment and how the climate crisis is having a detrimental impact on vital environmental processes. Re:Green was a chance to volunteer and tackle the climate crisis. Sustainability is an important aspect within my studies, so it felt very topical and beneficial to be able to immerse myself in nature and undertake sustainable conservation work first-hand.
During the conservation phase my highlight was learning new skills and actively applying them to restore and revive nature.
Removing invasive tree species and planting new trees made me feel like I was making a real difference to Scotland’s environment, while learning conservation techniques and utilising these to help nature whilst being away from social media was a real chance to evaluate my priorities. Taking off your walking boots for the day is immensely self-satisfying, as is feeling that you are doing something great, not only for yourself, but for the environment also.
A highlight from trek phase was bonding with my team.
Trekking and wild camping was a very different experience to anything I had done before, and it was certainly challenging at times, but it did allow me to become more resilient and create some extremely special memories with my team.
And of course, the views were a highlight too! Wild camping is a great way to experience nature and waking up to beautiful views after a night under the stars is a very memorable and surreal feeling.
During Re:Green I was able to meet new people, utilise team working skills, and challenge myself. As a result, I feel more confident in difficult situations and that I can tackle any problem.
After Re:Green I felt extremely motivated and inspired. It has improved my confidence and enabled me to become more resilient, while pushing myself beyond my comfort zone to achieve things I never thought I could. It has allowed me to become a more well-rounded person. Resilience is an important life skill to have, and it has helped me to adapt and persevere in the most academically stressful periods during my final year at university.
I will utilise these skills in the future to enhance my CV, when applying to graduate jobs, and when attending interviews to highlight my development of interpersonal skills beyond academia.
Re:Green has inspired me to do more conservation related volunteering and I am currently planning my own tree planting event at university!
Volunteering on environmental projects provides a sense of achievement and that you are actively doing something, however small it may be, to help the climate crisis. Since volunteering I have implemented changes to lead a more sustainable life, such as eating plant-based and shopping plastic-free as much as possible. Re:Green has shown me how small changes to my daily habits can make a difference.
To any university student considering Re:Green I would say just go for it!
It is a great opportunity to experience something new, meet like-minded people, and push yourself outside of your comfort zone, all whilst enjoying nature and volunteering to save the environment. You will come away with special memories, new friends, and a resilient mindset to help you achieve anything you want to. It is a truly life-changing experience, try it for yourself!