A British Ecological Society Special Interest Group
From Jessica Bayes
The British Ecological Society and the Society of Biology are looking for ecologists with experience in public engagement, to help out at Latitude Festival in Suffolk from 16th – 19th July inclusive. The ‘base-camp’ for our activities will be a converted mobile library (which we are calling the ‘Biology Bus’) in the Enchanted Garden, located in the family camping. Expenses will be covered and you will get a free ticket to the festival in return for being available from Thursday to Sunday. Further details are below.
We are looking for five experts who can help lead visitors on surveys, help with identification, the input of survey results (though online recording is proving to be a challenge to arrange at the moment!) and (if they wish) to help with hands-on ecology/ wildlife-themed activities we will also be running at the bus at various times. The festival is located at Henham Park, near Lowestoft, where there are various habitats to explore, including ancient woodland, lakes/ wetlands, conifer plantations and grassland/ parkland. We do have some experts from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology already signed up to help us, who all have good entomology knowledge and experience of leading public groups but we still need:
– One person with British plant identification skills/ knowledge (for the habitats present above)
– One person with general entomology skills
– One person with bird knowledge – the park website mentions marsh harriers, barn owls and Egyptian geese
– One person with mammal knowledge – the park website mentions muntjac and fallow deer
– An additional person with experience of running/ leading public bioblitzes/ wildlife surveys and ideally who also has knowledge in one/ a few wildlife groups we are focusing on.
The Enchanted Garden is open from 9am on Friday to Sunday only and we plan to use the Thursday to do a recce of the habitats and decide upon focus areas for our surveys. The schedule we are currently aiming to run on each day will be:
09:00 – Moth discovery – find out what moths the moth trap attracted overnight (Marc Botham from CEH will lead this but others can help where they have relevant expertise/ interest)
10:00, 11:00, 12:00 and 16:00 – insect and plant ‘safaris’ and/or mammal and bird surveys/ guided walks/talks with groups of families (children under 8 will need to be accompanied by a parent). Each survey will set out from the Biology Bus with one expert and one or two additional helpers (see below). Timings of particular surveys will depend on what species are around on site so this schedule is not set in stone.
17:00 – Insect Olympics and sing-along (fun competition-based activity for children plus insect-themed songs to join in with)
There will also be drop-in activities including insect-themed craft activities, identification ‘stations’ and pinned insect specimens to look at throughout the festival. There is also scope to do a dawn survey of birds/ mammals if someone we recruit is keen to run this. While a core aim is to inspire and engage the festival attendees about the wildlife on site we are also keen to contribute valuable records to the UK’s National Biodiversity Network during/ after the event. As we have been to ask to mainly deliver activities in the mornings and late afternoons only there will be opportunities for doing your own surveys at other times if you wish.
Three Society of Biology staff will be coordinating the activities throughout and will accompany each survey group – two of the staff also have some knowledge of insects and a few other groups and all have experience of running biology-themed public engagement activities at festivals. The Society of Biology’s public engagement manager, Penny Fletcher is arranging all equipment and activity schedules and will send full details on the logistics, finalised schedule, additional activities etc. to those who are able to commit to helping out. Please note volunteers will be expected to bring their own tent and other camping equipment. Camping for crew will be in the Performer Campsite (not far from the family campsite) and this can be accessed from the Wednesday (although arrival on Thursday morning also fine).
If you would like to express an interest in volunteering with us at Latitude Festival please email Penny direct; feel free to get in touch with her with any specific questions too. At this stage please just email your name, contact details and a short ‘CV’ outlining which area(s) of relevant expertise you have and detailing any previous involvement in public engagement with science, and/or experience of leading or assisting with bioblitzes/ wildlife surveys with public audiences. Please only express an interest if you can help on all four days as there will be set-up and final planning to do on the Thursday ahead of the activities opening to the public on the Friday.
Thank you in advance, we look forward to hearing from you.