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Sonya Hardy

Sonya, aged 28, is currently Senior Ranger for the Wild Sherwood Project. Wildlife Watch with Worcestershire Wildlife Trust has been a massive part of her life.

 

Where it began

I joined Wyre Forest Watch Group in 1997 aged 9 and I loved it so much I didn't leave until I was 18 – even then it was only because I was moving away to university! I learnt so much at Watch, it gave me a place to explore my passion for wildlife and meet other children who were interested too. We played amazing educational games like 'Find your Flock' so we didn't realise how much we were taking in, I still use some of the tricks I learnt then when identifying bird calls today! I completed my Gold Award and got to have it presented by Bill Oddie who was one of my heroes!

 

I was also incredibly lucky in my Watch Leaders, Chris Doncaster and Lynn Owen, who were really supportive. As a few of us were getting older, and thought we would like to get involved in actually preserving some of the wildlife we were learning about, they set up an opportunity for us to do some practical conservation work pulling Himalayan Balsam. That was it for me then, I was hooked! I'd known for a long time that I wanted to do something 'environmental' but wasn't sure what that would be until then. This prompted more talks, this time with the Forestry Commission, and Wyre Forest Conservation Workparties was born in 2001 and is still going strong and I manage to attend pretty regularly despite now living in North Nottinghamshire.


Where I am now!

 

Having found what I wanted to do as a career at a young age through Watch and the opportunities it gave me I then went on to study Environmental Management at University of Hertfordshire graduating in 2010. I've worked for Forestry Commission, Worcestershire Wildlife Trust, a private estate in Norfolk and currently work as Senior Ranger on a project called Wild Sherwood which helps unemployed people build their skills and confidence up to help them in to work by taking them into the countryside and completing a variety of practical conservation tasks as part of a group. I love it, because it makes a difference to people as well as to wildlife!

 

I had so much fun at Watch and learned loads, without even realising, and made friends for life. Without Watch it's possible I would not have discovered my love for nature, not got involved in conservation and could have ended up down a completely different career path. Whether you go into a wildlife based job or not Wildlife Watch is a fantastic way to learn about nature, have fun and, best of all, get a bit muddy!

 

Sonya Hardy