My Grow Wild journey and the opportunities it has given me

Young an standing in front of the Palm House at Kew Gardens at twilightMy name is Francis and I am about to embark on the third year of my Geography degree at Bangor.

Before going to university, I was involved in my local community in London and so when I travelled the 256 mile journey from my family home to my temporary university home in Bangor, I felt the need to get involved in my new local community.

When I sprouted my Grow Wild roots

Selfie of a young man taken from the inside gallery at the Temperate House with a view of the people belowGrow Wild entered my life when several of my community engagements collided. A happy harmony of scouting activities, Wildlife Trust engagement and youth forum involvement left an appropriate sized hole for Grow Wild, to plant a seed.

On a dark December evening I sat among an excited group of young people to draft a plan for what would soon be our Grow Wild space: Tyfu Môn. We came up with the concept of an area where people can come and be both inspired and engulfed in wildflowers. We hope that by seeing all the flowers and the beauty they bring, the community will be inspired to bring this beauty into their own home. You can have a look at our community project page to see what we have done.

A few months ago, Maria, the Grow Wild Engagement Manager for Wales, came to visit our site and after a few conversations I was able to see what other fantastic things Grow Wild does. This was the first push that led to my involvement this Summer.

As part of my studies, I have the option to choose a module for my third year based on a placement completed in my summer holiday. Using the module as an incentive to search for opportunities, I decided to take a big leap and ask Maria if she and her team at Grow Wild would have me for a six week placement. A few phone calls and emails later, on my return to London for the summer, I was knocking at the gates to Kew Gardens to be let into the Grow Wild offices!

Working inside Kew and taking Grow Wild's message out

Not strictly confined inside the walls at Kew, I did a variety of tasks both at my desk and outside the garden walls.

Some of the office tasks I undertook included: fact finding, helping advertise a competition, website clearing and sorting.

On the other hand, some of the other away from the desk work comprised of: a visit to a project site, helping at and orgainising the stand for the Director of Kew's garden party, helping with #BeesNeeds week, visiting Wakehurst, attending a network day and working with the interpretation department at Kew.

Having the opportunity to partake in such a variety of different parts of the Grow Wild team, as well as parts of Kew, it meant that I could see what goes into making Grow Wild run like it does. 

Several men talking at a stand surrounded by beesTowards the beginning of my time with the team I was tasked with creating talking flower pots for the next week's Director's Garden Party. Jumping to this task I went around searching far and wide for MP3 players, headphones and flower pots. With it all coming together on the night, amazed smiles and shocked faces were a good enough sign to let me know I had fulfilled the vision.

Young man standing behind a table with several flowerpots wearing headphones and huge painted wooden flowers either side

How I grew with the team

Being part of the team, I learned so much, for example, being able to research appropriately in both academic and non academic tasks. I learned how to present my thoughts and findings efficiently and appropriately to the ensure that for the task at hand myself and all involved were on the same page.

Within the team I was able to develop relationships to get guidance and advice from the appropriate people at the right time. The umbrella skill around all my tasks was communication, with every piece of work I was given I had to make sure I was communicating the appropriate information in the right way. 

A man and woman peaking out either side of huge painted wooden flowers

What blossomed for me the most?

It is so hard to pinpoint a specific task that I enjoyed the most, so I may have to say the whole experience!

Being able to immerse myself in the Grow Wild team and getting to see and understand what everyone does to make Grow Wild what it is was so valuable. The variety of skills I used and learnt completing the diverse range of tasks made me see what I enjoy doing, and what I am best at. If I had to put my finger on one thing it would be that I was able to see how my hard work paid off. Seeing the difference my work and input made to the events and tasks made me feel like I was making a valuable contribution. 

Thank you Grow Wild for having me for six weeks, I thoroughly enjoyed my time and hope I was able to give back as much as I gained from you. 

Young man standing outside the Temperate House at Kew Gardens

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