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Keen to volunteer, Master’s student, Heather Smith, discovered the Zoological Society of London was offering people the chance to identify animals from live images and videos from camera traps across the world including Costa Rica and Africa. Using an Instant Wild App, Heather has, so far, identified 10,768 animals, 1,319 of which are rare species. She is 16th on the leaderboard of worldwide users for total identifications and 11th for identifying rare species.

Heather has spread the word about the scheme to interested friends and the University’s Volunteering team.

She said: “This work is important as it helps with the essential conservation and it is a welcome distraction from day-to-day life as you can volunteer as much, or as little as you like. It’s fascinating looking at the different species that appear.”

Heather is also sewing equipment-carrying bags for NHS patients needing pain relief and laundry bags for NHS staff, after responding to a nurse who appealed for help on Facebook. Both items are in constant demand from staff and patients.

Her two volunteering schemes may be worlds apart but Heather, who is studying Policing, Law Enforcement and Security, feels they will stand her in good stead, whatever career path she chooses.

She added: “I'm not 100% sure about my career ambitions yet, but I’m certain the new skills and experiences I’m gaining through volunteering will help me in future. Whilst they do not directly link to my course, both initiatives are helping me build my self-confidence as well as developing my skills. I’m positive they will not only help me in my student career but also later on, in the workplace.”

The Volunteering and Mentoring Team helps students make the most of their time at the University of Chester, through volunteer opportunities within the institution and in the community. Although many face-to-face volunteer activities have been postponed for the time being, the team has compiled a list of virtual volunteering activities for students to get involved with.

Shaunagh Smith, Volunteer Co-ordinator at the University, said: “Life is very different right and volunteering can really help to give people a sense of belonging even though we may be physically apart. We are all really proud of the work that Heather is doing and the part she is playing in this conservation work.” 


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