Volunteering insight with the environmental James Bonds!

Having been a follower of EIA’s work for some time, I was thrilled when there arose an opportunity to volunteer for three months with its fundraising team.

I used to joke with my friends that EIA were the James Bonds of the environmental movement. Having become more acquainted with the work done here, this is no longer a joke – those who work here are consistently impressive and I’m constantly in awe of those who’ll go head to head with criminals in the name of environmental protection.

EIA campaigns vigorously to shut down all ivory trade (c) EIA

EIA campaigns vigorously to shut down all ivory trade (c) EIA

Arriving at the end of October and with much to be achieved before Christmas, it seemed I started my fundraising internship at a busy time of the year; by the end of my first day I’d sent a letter to David Attenborough! I soon began working with an awareness-raising project for about EIA’s ongoing Elephants Campaign and its contribution to the creation of the 1989 ivory trade ban.

There was much else to be done, however, so once this was tidied away I got stuck into brain-storming for this year’s Tiger Tracks event at St. Pancras International Station and preparing for December’s Big Give Christmas Challenge. The latter was a huge success and we easily raised our target of £20,000 for the Tiger Campaign. This was due in large part to the concerted effort of all in the fundraising team to keep our loyal members intouch and involved in the organisation.

Tiger Tracks, the world's biggest tiger event, starts next month at St Pancras Station in London

Tiger Tracks, the world’s biggest tiger event, starts next month at St Pancras Station in London

The task of fundraising provided an outsider such as myself with a great opportunity to learn about the organisation as a whole. Before you can convincingly sell an idea to a charitable trust or for an award, you first have to learn a good deal about it and so this experience has allowed me to quiz – not too annoyingly I hope! – all sorts of people in the office about their different roles and campaigns. Thus the past months have not only given me a unique insight into the murky world of wildlife crime, but also left me well-versed in such topics as of Bornean geography, traditional Chinese medicine and the many species of whale.

Alas, three months have now passed and no-one (not least myself) can believe how quickly January has come around.

It’s been an amazing experience: I’ve worked in a few offices now and I never overheard such interesting conversations as I have done here. And the more I overheard, the more I realised that EIA’s work is crucial to the protection of the world’s endangered species and habitats.

Like some of those who volunteered before me, I too have been shocked by some of the things I have seen and learnt, and I have many disturbing images seared into my mind. But surely confronting such problems is the first step towards their solution?

Anyway, I’m off now to get qualified, but hopefully one day I’ll be back to spearhead a much-needed North Sea Cod Campaign.

Not even making coffee in the microwave can put me off!