In February 2017, I was lucky enough to be chosen to take part in the first Practical Conservation Skills course, run by the Snowdonia Society, as part of their 50th Anniversary celebrations.
The eight of us began with a group workday at Tŷ Hyll, where together we learned the skill of sharpening garden tools, such as loppers, spades, and secateurs, using water and oil stones. None of us had ever experienced tool maintenance in this way before, so it was an incredibly valuable opportunity.
After this initial meeting, we were encouraged to select three additional workdays over the following three months. Variation in the types of skills obtained was particularly important, so I chose to attend a litter picking event, a Snowdon path maintenance workday, and a day working within the woodland at Tŷ Hyll.
Each of the four workdays I completed allowed me to work with tools I had never used before, including crowbars, mells, bow saws, and mattocks, in both familiar and new environments. Not only this, but at each event I was able to talk with and gain experience from many different, though equally knowledgeable individuals, all with a shared interest in conserving and maintaining the beautiful array of environments found within Snowdonia. This, for me, was the most valuable benefit to completing this course.
Additionally, as a direct result of completing the Practical Conservation Skills course, I now know how to operate a handheld GPS device, how to write an effective risk assessment, how to tell a water stone from an oil stone, how to build a semi-successful hedge, and so much more, and was lucky enough to do so all as part of an enthusiastic and knowledgeable team.
This will surely help significantly in the success of my future endeavours to work as a field conservationist, and I am hugely grateful for the opportunity the Snowdonia Society granted me.
By Beth Powell-Morris
Thank you to our funders Rhodd Eryri, Natural Resources Wales, Garfield Weston and The Esme Kirby Snowdonia Trust for supporting our work.