Meet the Team: project assistant – Thames Water for Wildlife

24th October 2016

Meet Hannah, a welcome addition to the People, Ponds & Water team, who is helping us run the Thames Water for Wildlife project

Tell me your name…

Hannah Worker

hannah-worker Hannah by a pond in Australia where she spotted a Platypus!

And your job title?

People, Ponds & Water Project Assistant

What does that involve?

My role has been quite varied, but my main focus has been helping to set up Freshwater Habitat Trust’s new project, Thames Water for Wildlife. This is an extension of the People, Ponds & Water project within the Thames Water region. The project aims to engage groups and schools with the amazing freshwater that surrounds them through wildlife surveys, water quality surveys, events, training days, water blitzes and more. Lots to keep me busy.

What’s so important about that?

When people are offered the opportunity and means to care for and discover more about their local wildlife, great things can be achieved. Nutrient pollution often goes unnoticed as it is invisible to the naked eye. This project will provide communities with quick kits that will turn the invisible visible, reveal the fantastic clean water sites and uncover the extent of nutrient pollution effecting freshwater life today.

Because of this project we can undertake more wildlife surveys for rare freshwater species as well as sampling thousands of waterbodies for nutrient pollution. Already, volunteers have survey over 120 ponds for Great Crested Newts using eDNA kits in the Thames Water region!

What is your favourite part of your job?

When I get to go out and do field work. I get to visit some of the most fantastic ponds and on a sunny day not much beats that.

And least favourite?

Has to be the driving. As the Thames Water region covers such a large area I’ve spent many hours zipping about, or more often than not, slowly creeping along the motorway in traffic. A nice pond always feels worth the drive though.

Why do you do it?  What do you get out of it, and what keeps you going through the hard days?

I do it because I find freshwater habitats fascinating. I’ve always been attracted to what lies below the surface, especially when it comes to our lovely amphibians. In this job I’m always learning something new and feel that all the hard work will make a real difference to the conservation of our freshwaters. I also feel that the Freshwater Habitats Trust are excellent at what they do. They have lots of integrity, knowledge and passion. It makes it a great place to work.

What does freshwater wildlife mean to you?

There aren’t many other places where you can see so much life in such as small area. It’s not always obvious what’s hiding away and it’s only after you watch for a while (or jump right in with your net) that you notice all the life bubbling away. So to me freshwater means intrigue and discovery.

What’s your favourite freshwater habitat?

Growing up in busy cities I love a quiet, secluded pond. A place where you can perch on the edge and watch all that life bustling away under the surface.

What got you interested in freshwater habitats?

I’ve been interested in freshwater since my family and I first put a pond in our back garden. It was a tiny little pond, but full of life. The year after it went in we had the ‘plague of frogs’. It was absolutely fantastic! A much welcomed plague. Thousands of froglets emerged from the depths and came back year after year. I spent many hours after school delving into that pond.