Volunteers like Nick, 30, from Plymouth, make such a positive difference to our PRK and CSI project. Find out from him why he loves being involved.

I started volunteering in September 2021. I had just started an Environmental Science Degree at the University of Plymouth and learnt about the value of Citizen Science.

Discovering there are numerous Citizen Science projects happening in the South West, including Westcountry Rivers Trust’s CSI scheme, I thought this would be a great opportunity to gain knowledge in some of the environmental issues we face on a local level.

By taking part, I gain experience in data collection and wildlife observations, and the Plymouth River Keepers (PRK) project and Westcountry CSI were of particular interest as they are local, easy to set up, and involve getting out in the local nature areas which is something I enjoy anyway so why not help to maintain these areas while doing so.

Through volunteering as part of the project, I can contribute to a good cause that benefits everybody and further my knowledge in aquatic systems and their protection. This has increased my understanding and in turn helped with my degree. I am hoping I will be able to bring these skills into my career.

Being part of the PRK project and providing these observations for WRT has allowed me to truly observe what is happening to our environment and to be able to make a difference.

It has given me a better sense of some of the challenges the environment faces. I always finish the observations feeling satisfied partly because of being out with nature and partly that I feel I am making a difference to the wider understanding we have of our rivers.

As a CSI volunteer on the Plymouth River Keepers project, my role consists of taking water turbidity, phosphate, total dissolved solids measurements as well as the temperature of the water using the kit provided by WRT. I also take some basic river observations like flow speed, width, and depth the kind of area surrounding the stream. I spend time at my monitoring locations looking for wildlife that is in the area. I also keep an eye out for any invasive plant species that may need to be removed.

This year I took part in the Big Butterfly Count using the Butterfly Conservation app while out on my river surveys. The PRK team are also using the butterfly records and other wildlife sightings to help inform habitat restoration works that they are hoping to carry out over the summer.

I think when nature is thriving it’s the greatest free resource we have and I want it to be in a good condition for my children, myself, and everyone. My best memories of being a child involve swimming in rivers, beaches and woodlands and I want to carry on enjoying these places.

You can find out more about our CSI scheme here: Westcountry CSI – Westcountry Rivers Trust (wrt.org.uk)

Or our Plymouth River Keepers project: Plymouth River Keepers – Westcountry Rivers Trust (wrt.org.uk)