BLOG: Volunteers Week: No student slacktivism for these ‘Tree Musketeers’

31 May 2018

To celebrate Volunteers Week (1 - 7 June) we ask City of Trees' volunteer Poppy Grange to share her volunteer experiences.

By Poppy Grange, 23.

I have been a tree lover and nature enthusiast since I was very small. Growing up in rural Lincolnshire there were miles of open space to roam and explore. My back garden turned into my own little nature reserve with long grasses, wild flowers, two ponds full of frogs and newts and a singular, 30 foot fir tree.

I spent more time pond-dipping or climbing my DIY treehouse than I did indoors and looking back I was very lucky to have such immediate access to nature. This inspired my love and appreciation of the natural world.

I moved to the North West with my family in 2013 and began studying for my BA in Environmental Management at the University of Manchester in 2016. I found out about a student society called ‘The Tree Musketeers’ which engages students in the natural world, helping them to not only connect to the trees, woods and wildlife on their doorstep, but also boost career prospects.

In 2018 I took over as Student Co-ordinator for the group and am thrilled to have worked with organisations such as the National Trust, Moors for the future, Cheshire Wildlife Trust, and City of Trees on some amazing projects across the region.

For me, environmental volunteering gives students an outlet away from their studies, enables them to give back to the community and get out and enjoy the fresh air – and often get very muddy!

As part of my studies I look at topics such as Landscape Ecology, Environmental Policy, Urban design, Biodiversity Management and Climate change impacts.

These subjects help me understand the complexities of the relationships between the economy, society, and environment. More importantly, it helped me realise that as an individual I can make a difference, as many small changes can lead to huge changes overall.

Living in an urban environment, our local green spaces are incredibly important and the Tree Musketeers do a fantastic job alongside community organisations creating and managing habitats where nature can thrive.

My highlights have been working with City of Trees, a leading environmental charity aiming to plant 3 million trees within a generation, to help 500 new trees take root in a community woodland in Oldham.

The Tree Musketeers also helped bring Tiger Wood in Fog Lane Park, Didsbury, back into bloom. With funding from the RHS we planted native bulbs and plants such as wild garlic, forget-me-not and primrose as well as creating pathways to establish a beautiful, biodiverse and environmentally friendly wood.

This project won a ‘Level 4 Thriving award’ at the Royal Horticultural Societies’ North-West Britain in Bloom Awards in 2017.

I am now starting a placement with City of Trees and as part of this I will be working with school groups, imparting my knowledge and love of nature onto the next generation.

I feel children we are becoming more detached from the natural world and it’s crucial to educate them about the amazing benefits our environment offers.

So my advice? Where ever you live there will be amazing organisations, community groups and student activists who are passionate about making our green spaces greater – so I urge you to look them up – and get involved!

As young people I believe we have a responsibility to stand up and shout about protecting and preserving our trees, parks, green spaces and woods – not just for future generations, but wildlife too.

All For One and One (planet) for all!

Find out about City of Trees volunteering opportunities and how to become a Citizen Forester.