Two Students Live a Week in the Life of an AONB Unit

Friday 14th July 2017

What does an AONB Unit do? We’ve had two students from local schools with us this week. They spent a day with each of our team members to discover the variety of ways we help keep the Mendip Hills special.

Oli is from Churchill Academy and Liam is from Wells Blue School. Liam has been a Young Ranger with us for the last 2 years and we made Oli and honorary Young Ranger for the week.

Day one: The day started with an introduction to the team by Andy Mallender who runs all the projects and Jim Hardcastle who is the manager, then a tour of the offices and centre with a safety briefing. We then went down to the Blackmoor Reserve for a site visit to hear about how the visitors can affect the area and do some litter picking. We then went for a visit to Cheddar with Cindy Carter, the Landscape Planning Officer to see the effect of housing and quarrying on the hills. Andy then took us to fountain timber to get planks for the bench repair later in the week

Day two: We started the day by heading in the van to Black Down to repair a cross drain with Andy. Cross drains help get the water off the path to stop it eroding. Andy told us all about the different projects the AONB Unit run with lots of different people. Then we headed in to Cheddar to collect the plants for the next day’s wildlife improvements to a garden in a care home in Cheddar.

Day three: On Wednesday we went to the Greenway care home in Cheddar to help create a nature garden with the practical volunteers group to benefit the residents. We also talked to a lovely resident called Jeff who had been looking after the garden and was a happy for the improvement we made. Sammy Fraser, the AONBs Volunteer Coordinator was in charge today and looks after all the volunteers.

Day four: On Thursday we went down to Blackmoor Reserve with the Discovery team that is a group of adults with learning disabilities and helped them get ready to repair the broken bench that we got wood for on Monday. We then went back to Cheddar to run the AONB activity stand which was to promote the Mendip Hills AONB to visitors and had activities for children.

Day five: Our last day started with us creating a PowerPoint for Liam to take to Switzerland for his trip to Europarc Junior Rangers camp. We then learnt how social media is used to promote the AONB from Jim and how it is the most useful tool the team have.

Oli said, “The week’s been a real eye opener inspiring me for a future career.”

Liam said, “It’s made me realise so much more about what the Mendip Hills AONB Unit do to look after the area and has made me what options I should take at college.”

Both students worked really had in a wide variety of situations and represented the Unit and the Mendip Hills brilliantly. Well done to both of them!