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A year of Up Skill, Down Dale….
Up Skill, Down Dale began in May 2021, with 12 young people aged 18-29 embarking on a whirlwind journey of new knowledge and skills, friendships with like-minded people and gorgeous Dales vistas.
The group met one weekend a month in different parts of the Yorkshire Dales and volunteered on a wide variety of tasks. In some cases there was hard graft; bashing back bracken, tree planting or stone walling. The sessions were also a great opportunity to learn new skills, such as finding out about invertebrate populations through e DNA surveys, learning about peatland bog restoration and upland conservation farming. Volunteers met lots of professionals working in the conservation community and got to explore routes into the green economy.
Teams in the Authority also supported volunteers for specific placements. Volunteers were mentored by staff in the Trees and Woodlands, Wildlife Conservation, Learning and Engagement and Farming Conservation Teams. There were opportunities for First Aid training, navigation practise and GIS training.
A snippet of life as a Youth Volunteer…
Here are some first-hand accounts from this year’s volunteers;
“The Saturday sessions with USDD vary greatly, and there is no pressure to attend an event if it’s not something you fancy doing. I found Caroline to be a great listener, who worked hard to plan days based on activities that members of the group had expressed an interest in trying. One of my favourite Saturday sessions was our trip to Kexwith Farm up on the moors in a remote part of the Dales. We were armed with waterproofs and bamboo sticks to bash back the invasive bracken on the farm. What I enjoyed most about this day was the freedom to move around and chat away with different people getting to know them as we worked. Along with learning the importance of bashing we got to have a go at dry stone walling with a friendly group of local chaps that have many years of experience between them and great senses of humour.
I’ve learned lots of useful nuggets of information such as not all bees are bumblebees, but all bumblebees are bees, this came from our Bee Survey Day with the YDNPA Tees-Swale Trainee, Rhiannon. I learned that there are over 250 species of bees in the UK and most tend to be solitary, unlike the familiar honey bee that lives and works in colonies.
One of the reasons I believe USDD to be a valuable experience is due to the inclusivity, it has been great meeting like-minded individuals that share similar interests with who I could be myself around. I have been able to develop new skills such as, how to kick sample a riverbed to collect eDNA, how to start and keep a fire going, and how to engage with people of different ages and backgrounds. I believe USDD played a large part in helping me get my current apprenticeship with Dorset Council as a Countryside Ranger and would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to develop themselves and make friends.”
Lydia Gill, USDD Volunteer
“I wanted to get involved with Up Skill, Down Dale because I found myself living at home as a result of the pandemic, completing my studies from my childhood bedroom. I wanted to meet people and give something back to the environment I have grown up in and love. The Yorkshire Dales is such a special place, so it made sense to commit some of my time to volunteering in the Park before I might have to move away for employment.
Up Skill, Down Dale has been fantastic so far – not only am I able to get involved in the landscape, but I’ve met other like-minded young people from across the Park. It’s so lovely to chat to other people my age about why we love the National Park, and what we see as our future within it. I have also been involved in the National Park Management Plan Steering Group, as a Youth Representative which, in part, meant that I was offered the opportunity to meet Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak on Friday 12th November, at Grinton Lodge YHA. In our brief chat, I outlined why I wanted to be involved in the Park, and why USDD is a vital part of the life of young people in the area.”
Laura Day, USDD Volunteer
Questions? Get in touch!