About Me

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Shrewsbury, Shropshire, United Kingdom
FSC Preston Montford has been an outdoor classroom since 1957 and is a Field Studies Council centre. We deliver curriculum related outdoor education by the experts; from pre-school to Masters level; for infants, school students, undergraduates and enquiring adults with an interest in the natural world. Courses for schools and individuals. A venue for others to use; with bed space for 130, catering facilities and 7 fully equipped teaching and meeting spaces.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Reflections on a GAP year at Preston Montford

A GAP year at Preston Montford - by Peter Griffiths

Originally I found out about FSC through my head of Geography at Shrewsbury Sixth Form College, who strongly recommended trying to get a job at PM for someone having a gap year prior to studying geography or any environmental science at University (like myself)… so I feel very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to gain experience in the sector that I intend to work in after I finish my studies, and even more so to have been given that opportunity at a field centre as special as PM.

I started working here on September 29th, as a Supporting Education Assistant, and have gained a range of different skills and experience having worked in Housekeeping, Maintenance, and primarily in Education.
Running the shop for a big portion of my time here has given me experience in enterprise, which I would have never expected, as well as other more environmental and education-based responsibilities I’ve had such as data collection through met readings, Moth trapping, Butterfly transects etc. I have also had opportunities to assist teaching groups on and off site, which I have found very enjoyable and beneficial. Furthermore, at the end of my time here I feel I have grown as a person in a number of ways and have gained invaluable experience and knowledge on how to conduct myself in the work place. For example, I can confidently say that I show a lot more forward thinking qualities such as not necessarily needing to be asked to do something when it needs doing and generally being able to be relied upon to get jobs done, and these are qualities that I hope I can take forward to later life and future jobs.
As well as gaining experience and knowledge through jobs on centre, through the responsibilities I’ve been given, and the infectious enthusiasm from staff at PM my interest in the environment and wildlife around me has grown vastly. Having lived in the countryside all my life I have grown to take a lot of it for granted in everyday life, but through working here it has taught me to appreciate it more and look at things differently. Moreover on centre I have built my own bird box that I installed within the grounds (please don’t ever cut down the tree that it’s on!), and a very flimsy looking bird feeder, which surprisingly enough does seem to do the job! Additionally, a couple of weeks ago FSC funded me, as well as Staci and Kirsty, to attend a beginner’s Moth ID course with Dave Grundy, which was a very enjoyable and informative weekend and such a unique opportunity that I would never have expected to get during my year here. Furthermore, I find myself at home or on walks in my spare time stopping and trying to identify things such as moths, or listening out for birdsongs with a lot more interest than I would have in the past, and these are certainly not interests I would have developed as much (or at all!) if I hadn’t got a job at PM, so I really am grateful for this. 
Throughout my time working here I have been made to feel extremely welcome and at home by all staff, and have made many friends in these nine months. Moreover, as I come to the end of my final week, as well as feeling excited for my month of Interrailing and starting University in September, I also do feel sad to be leaving my job here, which is most definitely not something I’ve felt when finishing at any previous jobs that I’ve had!
Thank you from the bottom of my heart to each and every one of the staff at PM for making my time working here so enjoyable, I couldn’t have asked for a better year of work experience!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Nestbox making with The Westminster School - Peter Griffiths

The Westminster School applied for and were successful in receiving a grant from the FSC Kids Fund to fund a residential trip this March to Preston Montford. The majority of The Westminster pupils have very limited opportunities to connect with the natural environment as they are from a deprived urban setting.

On their last morning with us, I assisted Angela (our Education Team Leader) along with teachers from Westminster School in an activity for the children to build their own bird boxes. The purpose of this activity was to help build essential team work skills as well as practical conservation skills. Also we aimed to help raise the children’s awareness of the wildlife that surrounds us every day, and how to accommodate it better. 

After a demonstration from Angela, the class worked in small teams to support each other in making the measurements and using the saws and hammers carefully and effectively. Step by step, working together, they built their bird boxes. Every group finished the activity in time for their lunch and were rightfully very proud of their efforts!

Some of the boxes went back to Westminster school to encourage birds to nest in their school grounds, and 4 were left at Preston Montford to further increase our chances of watching wildlife. We have secured them to trees within our grounds and with a 28mm diameter hole drilled in, we look forward to observing great tits and tree sparrows soon.
Each and every one of the children were a pleasure to work with, and it was fantastic seeing the care and commitment they showed for making their bird boxes as bird-friendly as possible, and their passion for wildlife in general.
Post course, Westminster School sent this update on how the trip impacted them and their wildlife plans for the future.