Society Spotlight: Aberystwyth Conservation Volunteers

WITH the Societies Fair upon us, the choice of clubs and groups to join here in Aberystwyth is vast. Sports, the arts and politics tend to dominate, but what if you’re truly looking for a society that gives back? The Aberystwyth Conservation Volunteers are one of the most active societies that can provide an outlet for everyone – from passionate environmentalists to anyone with green fingers. We spoke to ACV to find out just what an aspiring volunteer can expect.

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Who are the Aberystwyth Conservation Volunteers?

ACV: ACV is a student society which works closely with local conservation organisations to help with major projects on their reserves. We aim to have one of these tasks every Saturday, with residential tasks carrying onto Sunday on sites where we can stay overnight. Even though we can only get so many in the minibus, other commitments mean we rarely fill a task completely, and if we do those people generally get priority on future tasks they apply for.

Whilst these are our big events as a society, we also take care of our own garden near Trefloyne halls of residence on Wednesday afternoons, and like most societies we hold evening socials in town. No initiations here, we meet up for a quiet drink with good friends, and we even have themed nights which tend to be every other week.

What has the society been up to over the last year?

ACV: We’ve had some interesting tasks this year, helping to build a replica neolithic hut with Old Chapel Farm, some fiery tasks burning gorse in our own Parc Natur Penglais, and working with the National Trust to clear rhododendron and cherry laurel at Henllan.

Starting from Lord Beechings on a Thursday night for our weekly socials, we’ve seen all kinds of fancy dress, quiz nights and a hugely popular picture scavenger hunt. In the second term, we also started meeting up some Sundays for breakfast at a local café, which was a great start to the day with good company and good food.

You have your own garden on Penglais campus? How is this going?

ACV: We have had our garden on campus for three years now and each year it’s looking better and better. Last year we mainly established new plants, including planting a hedge of hawthorn saplings around the boundary and creating a section for wildflowers and heather. We also had several sessions taking care of the fallen trees from the storm early in the year, using the wood to build a log bench and creating a wood pile for future projects.

What are your plans for this academic year?

ACV: We’ll be going off on our Saturday tasks; our fantastic secretaries have already organised tasks with the National Trust at Llanchaearon and the Vale of Rheidol railway for this term.

We’ve got a few ideas for further work in the garden too; we’re hoping to create information boards on both the plants found in the garden and for the society, as well as building a new garden shed/workshop and rockery on the site. Saying that, these sessions are just as relaxed and as great a chance to get to know people as our socials, as well as being a great way to spend a lazy Wednesday afternoon.

So what can students expect from ACV and how can someone join?

ACV: With ACV you’ll be helping support the wildlife of the Welsh countryside on the front lines, doing practical conservation work which can be physically demanding at times. We never ask volunteers to do more than they want to, we’re all volunteering at the end of the day.
Everyone gets stuck in as much or as little as they want, for some it’s a chance to explore the welsh countryside, for others it’s to meet like and unlike people; we get all kinds of people from all courses helping out.

As with all societies you’ll need to sign up to AberSoc first, but after that you can find us on the Student Union societies page where you can buy membership. Without it, you won’t have the insurance to cover any accidents on our Saturday tasks, so membership of the society is completely compulsory to join us on those.

Is there anywhere to get some more information if we’re interested?

ACV: If you’re looking for more information you can search Aberystwyth Conservation Volunteers on Facebook, find our stall at the freshers fair, send us an email directly at scty22.aber.ac.uk or even just come along to our social or garden tasks, everyone is welcome!