Do you know what volunteering in a natural park in Lithuania is like? Well, read this article and you’ll find out!
My name is Alessandro, I am Italian and I am 29 years old. I have a university degree in Biology, and a good amount of my education was related to nature conservation and similar issues. “Wow, that’s cool!” you may be thinking. Yes, it is, but when it comes to find a job in this field, it is a bit less cool, at least in Italy!
Playing educative games with youngsters is one of the main activities of our institution. Here, you can see a group from a school nearby playing a quiz in our conference hall.
I was looking for an opportunity to do something useful for me and at the same time I wanted to be an added value for somebody else. And, believe me, no choice could have been better than coming to volunteer to Venta Regional Park, in northern Lithuania, near the border with Latvia! This institution was established in 1992 to protect the ecosystem of a part of the valley of the Venta river. Why did I mention we are near the border with Latvia? Because it explains, at least in part, why now I am here.
With the arrival of Spring it's time to welcome back birds, coming to Lithuania from southern Europe and Africa for the breeding seasons. Here, you can see me and Nerijus, the ecologist of the park, collecting some nests prepared by the students of a near school.
My presence here as an Interreg Volunteer Youth (IVY) volunteer is possible thanks to the LatLit project called “Visit Venta”, that allows me to stay 6 months and contribute to the protection of the environment in this amazing part of Europe. This project is really interesting: it starts from the consideration that an ecosystem is unique, independently of the administrative or state borders, and it needs a unique management, despite different institutions are located in different areas and, in our case, countries. In fact, the Venta river is located half in Lithuania and half in Latvia, where it flows into the Baltic Sea, crossing the city of Ventspils. Here comes the Interreg LatLit project “Visit Venta”, aimed at promoting ecotourism in this region. Lithuanian and Latvian authorities, Venta Regional Park included, are working for the conservation and promotion of this territory. How? By putting information panels near the river, signs and indications, platforms where canoes can dock etc.
And after building wooden nests, it's time to put them on trees with the help of your young adventurers. Here, a photo of the group getting ready for the hard work.
Are you wondering what are my daily activities here? A great deal of them! As a volunteer I can contribute to the goals of our project by doing nature surveys and monitoring together with the ecologist, both of plant and animal species. Moreover, educational activities are very important to build ecological awareness in new generations: that’s why I have many opportunities to visit schools or youth camps, or even to receive young visitors in our offices. Our visitor centre, with its nice exposition, is also an excellent starting point for tourist coming from Lithuania, Latvia and sometimes other countries that want to discover Venta Regional Park and its secrets: here I can explain to them what the main features of our territory are and, sometimes, bring them in excursions and hikes around. However, my work doesn’t finish here: there is also need for ordinary maintenance, like repairing or painting signs and informative panels, or, more simply, cutting grass. We have, in fact, many recreational areas where our visitors enjoy to spend their time, and where grass grows so fast…
Welcoming people in the visitor centre and showing them our little but nice exposition is part of our daily activities. Here, you can see a member of our staff talking about fossils with students from the local town school.
If you are thinking about putting your competences at the disposal of your local or non-local community, IVY volunteering programme can be a suitable option for you: you can give your important contribution to your project, while doing a significant experience and learning and acquiring new competences. So, what are you waiting for? Time to apply!!!