25 Bronze dofe Third Year students started their conservation volunteering programme today on Reigate Heath local nature reserve. They spent the day working hard clearing invading trees like scots pine, with the aim of restoring the threatened lowland acid heathland habitat which has become rare because of development like roads, housing, recreation and golf courses. This group of students were outstanding in the way they engaged enthusiastically with all the activities: they listened to instructions, worked well together and improved an enormous area. They did the tradition of RGS dofe conservation proud on their very first day of conservation activities … well done!
This lowland acid heath habitat used to cover larger parts of the South East on sandstone areas like Reigate Heath. When grazing stopped trees and scrub invaded and destroyed the heathland. Restoring heathland will improve the habitat and chances for animals like adders, grass snakes, slow worms, lizards and birds like sparrow hawks, crossbills and stonechat to thrive in our otherwise overcrowded part of the country. Reigate Heath is a SSSI – site of special scientific interest, so it is protected from development but the animals and plants still need our help.
The students worked very hard all day raking out the thick nutrient rich soil which smothers heather seeds and stops their growth. Heather likes the nutrient poor sandy soils beneath, so our students raked off the overlying “alien soil” to expose the sandy grey soils.
The students also felled selected trees including some Scots Pine and some Oak and Silver Birch. These pre-selected trees opened up significant glades and will encourage the growth of heath seedlings which have lain dormant for a hundred years.
RGS students have worked on the Heath and elsewhere for nearly 10 years and so they can truly say they have improved local habitats for the benefit of local people and wild plants and animals. We like to say RGS students “Save The World starting in their own backyard”… and they certainly helped save a little tiny bit of Surrey today!
More details here:
Many thanks, as always, to Reigate Area Conservation Volunteers who run the day.
contact Reigate Area Conservation Volunteers (RACV) here http://www.racv.org.uk/
Twenty three 3rd Year Bronze students did their first conservation day on the hottest day of the year so far. We visited Mercers Park and cleared invasive willow and scrub from the banks of a brook. Students also got wet and muddy clearing a choked stream full of logs and junk. They did an excellent job on their first time out doing conservation. RGS Staff and RACV volunteers were pleased with their commitment to some hard work and willingness to learn some new skills. Well done!
Redhill Common: north slope at the pond site. 30 students cleared scrub and trees from the north side of the pond. A significant area was cleared and they all worked hard and with enthusiasm. Small branches were burned and log piled up for collection. This task follows on from previous visits to open out this area and reinstate a grassland surrounding the pond which itself is planned for restoration in the future. Clearance of trees and scrub might at first appear destructive but it increases habitat diversity for various plants and animals along the forest edges created. Edge habitats are often more productive and the grassland will encourage new birds, insects and small mammmals, as well as bats. The glade will also provide a more attractive environment for people walking through the woods.
22 Bronze pupils did their first conservation day at Petridgewood Common near Salfords. Reigate Area Conservation Volunteers led the day and instructed pupils in the safe use of cutting tools and the purpose of felling and removing invading scrub species on the common. All pupils worked very well indeed and made a real difference to the area creating a more diverse habitat for species including rare butterflies, orchids and camomile.
Here is a guide for 3rd Year pupils and parents thinking of starting Bronze DofE this January. This will be available as a hard copy at the Options Evening for parents and at the DofE assembly, both in January.
The volunteering section can be hard to organise.
At Bronze almost ANY activity which involves YOU HELPING OTHERS is ideal for voluntary service. Popular examples are: helping at a sports club, helping at church, helping at Rainbows / cubs / beavers, helping at a retirement home, charity shop, teaching youngsters trampolining, teaching chess to new players at a club … etc.
You can also “look after” animals, but this should more involved than just taking care of your own pet! Caring for horses at a stables would be ideal. You are not encouraged to work at a Vets (it’s a business). Remember that relatives are never allowed to be your assessor.
We run a Conservation Scheme at school which counts for Bronze volunteering.
At Silver and Gold you are expected to make more contribution to ORGANISE activities and run significant events, in addition to just helping out or turning up.
Opportunities at school include:
- helping with Reigate St Mary’s pupils with DT: see Mr Edwards
- helping in the library: see Mrs Robert / Mrs Light
- helping with the Pilgrim: see Mr Jones
- helping teach Maths at RSM: see Mr Bader
At RGS we run an Award Leaders programme for Gold participants: this is an ideal voluntary service activity and helps us run the scheme too.
Check with me first if you are unsure whether an activity counts as a voluntary service.
30 3rd Year pupils went down to Nutfield Marshes – a nature reserve being established near Mercers Park. They worked on clearing a pond of invading reed mace (bull rushes) and surrounding willow. They managed to clear a substantial amount in just a day. This counts towards their Volunteering section.
The RGS Sign Language Course starts in September!
It can count for Silver skill OR volunteering (service).
It is run by a professional sign language tutor and takes place on Tuesdays after school 4-5pm and lasts about 12 weeks.
It is open to DofE 5th formers wanting to do a useful voluntary service or skill. For those doing it as a service you will need to extend your activity by raising deaf awareness in school or finding a placement in the community (tricky in the past). For those doing this as a skill you will find the course is sufficient to cover the silver requirement of 3 months of regular activity.
Sign up now in the DofE Office: any lunchtime!
The next conservation day is Tuesday 6th July.
Open to 3rd Form bronze dofe pupils. Please sign up in D1 any lunchtime.
It will involve removal of alien species from a local wetland nature reserve.
Another successful conservation day. This time for new 3rd years who worked well in the rain. Scrub clearance near Salfords cricket club.