Aaron Claxton

Volunteer Countryside Ranger, St Agnes to Godrevy

Aaron Claxton - Volunteer Countryside Ranger
Rangers fix a fence on the North Cliffs, Cornwall

Many Rangers start their journey in the National Trust as volunteers. Which is exactly what ranger Aaron did as he started his career in countryside management. 

We tracked him down and asked him to give us an insight into his experiences.

What sort of work are you doing?

A Ranger's job is a real mix of practical and office based roles. This means we can be doing anything from cutting vegetation on miles of footpaths, to building hedges and fencing, to organising events such as beach cleans.  In the past our team have hosted Bioblitzes and the World Bellyboard Championships.

What do you like about living and working here?

I find it really interesting getting to spend so much time out in the countryside, and seeing the stretch of coastline that we look after go through seasonal changes. From seeing huge waves breaking over Godrevy lighthouse in a winter storm, to all the wildflowers and nesting birds in spring.  The contrast is really something.

Why did you decide to become a volunteer?

I wanted to volunteer because I saw it as a really good opportunity to gain experience and training in conservation - the field of work I wanted to continue working in.

How long did you volunteer for?

I have volunteered initially for 14 months and added another four to go, so 18 months in total.

What are the best and worst parts of the job?

The best parts for me are being in places that are usually really busy, but when no one else is around. You also get to work in places that not many people ever get the chance to see.  It feels like a privilege to be there. The amount of wildlife you get to see from spending so much time outdoors is also really cool.  There aren't many bad bits about the job, but it can be disheartening to see people abuse the sites you care for, littering and fly tipping can get you down when you work so hard to look after the place.

What was the most valuable part of your experience?

Volunteering in the role really helped me focus on whether or not the job was for me. I got to meet lots of interesting people and my knowledge and skills grew really fast.  I received a lot of free training, and now have practical certifications in brushcutting and maintenance and tractor and trailer driving which are essential for being a Ranger.

What advice would you give someone who is interested in volunteering?

Always give everything 100% effort as you get the most out of it that way. There are days when you can get down (digging a hole for a gatepost on uneven muddy ground in the pouring rain or strimming through dog poo isn’t fun) but persevere as it is well worth it. The skills you gain and people you will meet make it all worthwhile.

If you are aiming for a career in conservation and land management then find out more about volunteering opportunities that can help.