On Saturday 5th May 7.30am and finished at 10pm EcoSoc, AMATA and FXPlus collaborated with a diverse host of societies and external organisation to put on a BioBlitz event, with the main event and stallholders occurring mainly over the period between 10am and 4pm.
The purpose of a BioBlitz is to survey and record all wildlife present within an area over a 24 hour period. BioBlitz Penryn 2018 marketedf itself as a family event, with the overarching aim of encouraging both the public and student communities to engage more with their local wildlife. To this end, not only were there activities such as pond dipping, bird ringing, mammal trapping etc. (with the purpose of recording the rich wildlife of Penryn Campus), representatives from local environmental charities and groups were invited to hold stalls where they could promote their own work. The intention was for people to inspire attendees with the richness of nature, leaving them motivated to engage more at home with their local habitat; whether this takes the form of a decision to visit a nature reserve on a day out or just taking a small step to make their garden spaces more sympathetic to local wildlife species such as the hedgehog.
“It was a very well organised and extremely enjoyable event, and I’m so grateful that I was given the opportunity to be a part of it. Visitors of all ages seemed to be really enjoying themselves, and hopefully we inspired people to become engaged and informed about nature.”
The BioBlitz event held in conjunction with the Garden Festival and AMATA performances, consisting of family-friendly games and plant sales in the walled gardens, and dance and music performances throughout the day from local performance groups-as well as AMATA students- at a variety of locations across campus. This resulted in some who were at the event to see the AMATA performances, who would perhaps not normally attend a wildlife event, found themselves taking part in activities they would never dream of doing, and vice versa.
“BioBlitz was a brilliant day and an excellent way of engaging people with British wildlife.”
This event has been a hugely successful example of the rich results that can come from such a diverse and immersive cross-organisation collaboration. The huge team of people involved in the event -and their roles- are listed below:
- EcoSoc (arranging and running the main activities)
- AMATA (mostly organised by Zoe Burden, a first year CEM student, and Tamsin Godfrey)
- FXPlus (mainly responsible for the garden festival aspects)
- The SU (huge input and advice was given by Rosie Lea, SU Activities Coordinator)
- Sports Centre (booked out as a contingency plan in case of bad weather)
- FXU Student Societies: Generarion Wild, BeeSoc, Green Living, Prickle Project, HerpSoc, PocketPals and NatureWatch (link to video can be found at the bottom of this page, thanks to Daphne Wong)
- External organisations: Cornwall Seal Group (chosen charity for the raffle earnings), Prickles and Paws, South West Lakes Trust, SIING, ERCCIS, Ambios, Amateur Entomological Society (AES), Cornwall Bat Group, Cornwall Mammal Group, RSPB local group, Cornwall Butterfly Conservation and Feadon Farm (couldn’t attend, but donated a very generous raffle prize of a wildlife activity for a family of 4)
- BioBlitz committee, comprised of five 1st and 2nd year bioscience students:
- Flavio Winkler Ford 2nd Year Conservation Biology and Ecology, Co-Event Secretary.
- Alice Wightman 1st year Conservation Biology and Ecology Co-Event Secretary.
- Catherine Walker 2nd year Conservation Biology and Ecology, Advertising and Marketing.
- Anneka Goater 1st year Zoology, Activities Coordinator.
- Léonard D’Aranjo 2nd year Zoology, Volunteers Coordinator.
- Last but not least, a huge contribution came from volunteers, both from AMATA, whom Zoe coordinated, and others that were officially BioBlitz volunteers, who were mostly Exeter students and were coordinated by Leo. These volunteers guided the public, helped out at stalls that were low on numbers, and assisted in running the EcoSoc events on the day.
It must also be acknowledged that an event like this didn’t just materialise from thin-air. The process was lengthy and in-depth, starting with the election of BioBlitz’s new committee in October, sustained meetings with FXPlus and The SU to coordinate logistics and planning, social media advertisement and leaflet design and distribution.
Alice Wightman, Co-Event Scretary, summaruse this event’s impact in a nutshell : “I think it made us all appreciate just how much work goes into organising events, especially ones where so many different groups, organisations are involved in running it, and you have to coordinate so many visitors and stallholders. I still didn’t think it would actually happen until the moment the groups and public started arriving. Then I saw how really, if you put the work in, these things do just happen, and you roll with it if that makes sense? Everyone turns up, they do their thing, and we all have a great day. Basically, it is a lot of work, but it is possible, and you are capable of doing it. If I were to do it again, I would have a lot more confidence”
The event was hugely successful in spurring enthusiasm for Britain’s wildlife, and the level of excitement ignited in the children demonstrates that a larger impact far beyond the event will have been spurred by the involvement of young children- establishing a love for nature early on is likely to last and cause positive environmental and conservation-based impact in the future.
“It was a great opportunity to engage members of the public with nature and there was a wide range of activities and stalls. It was 10/10!”
In a more direct sense, the event has clearly made students and other attendees more wildlife-aware in their day-to-day life. Volunteers are also likely to have been inspired to delve further into environmental education and campaigning, if not as a career than at least as a hobby.
Due to the AMATA performances on show, the event also raised awareness of the potential for students and the public to attend regular performances on offer, thereby bringing the student body of the two unis together more with the wider community. It is also an excellent example of how generous support from the Exeter Alumni Annual fund has been put to great use; financially supporting a wonderful event which will no doubt lead to raised environmental awareness and thus further impact in the near and distant future.
Links to more information
Social Media: https://www.facebook.com/PenrynBioBlitz/
Images by Sasha Stretton.