Guest Blog by Emmet Campbell
Hey Guys, its Emmet. The office-favourite student on this placement who’s here for a good time, but not a long time.
Just like my student-fellow Amy, I am a Queen’s student and I’m studying Biological Sciences (the foundation degree). There’s 4 of us in the office; Nicole Amy, Sarah and yours truly (that was in no particular order, but the best was saved for last). The 3 gals are here for their placement year however I’m just here for the summer. No one wants to spend their summer working but I was excited to get a bit of experience for the first time in an actual scientific environment. Unlike many of my classmates, who have been working in labs 9-5 everyday for 2 months, I get to spend my summer actually enjoying it. Outside. With the Lough Neagh Partnership at Oxford Island Discovery Centre.
For what has been probably one of the hottest summers the Emerald Isle has ever seen, I’ve been identifying plants, counting bees and holding damselflies hostage until we can determine if the wine glass on their back has a base or not. And what do I have to show for it? Well, apart from a killer farmer’s tan, I have a whole new understanding of the word ‘conservation’. Carrying out the work I’ve been doing has opened my eyes to the big beautiful world of environmental management. All my friends hate me now because I can’t help but identify the positive and negative indicators of any random patch of grass we happen across.
“Those nettles are a sign nutrient enrichment, that Farmer would need to be careful with his slurry”
“Emmet, we literally don’t care”
And that’s the just the thing, people don’t care. I didn’t. Until I had to. But its through this placement that I’ve started to see just how important the work that the Lough Neagh Partnership undertakes is. To give you an example, Devil’s Bit Scabious, a plant that I would’ve shrugged off as some weird looking thistle, is the feeding source for the endangered Marsh Fritillary butterfly’s larvae. Now, there are people writing 40+ page long management plans on how to maintain a stable population of this species over years so that this butterfly doesn’t become extinct and I used to walk past it calling it a strange purple plant.
And that’s just one of the many I could write about. If I wrote about all of them though, no one would read this (good job for getting this far).
Thanks to this placement, I now have a whole new array of skills under my belt useful for a life of conservation and even though I don’t have much time left here*, I intend to put them to use, both in and outside of work.
*I’m going back to uni, not death row
That about sums it up for my first (and final) blog. Unfortunately, there wont be another as like all good things, my presence in the office must come to an end. Best of luck to my subordinates fellow students that I’m leaving behind!