"Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

Sam Stretton
30 September 2015
  • Did you know that a limpet’s teeth, is one of the strongest natural substance on earth?
  • Did you know that an urchins' anus is always facing the sun?
  • Did you know that Fynbos can be hand pollinated?
  • Did you know that raptors have a hole in their tongues so they can breathe when munching on mice?

These are just a few of the cool facts that I have learnt over the course of my 2 months with Nature's Valley Trust (NVT). I must admit I was a bit concerned on the drive from the airport as to what on earth I had done. Who quits their job and hopes that something interesting will pop up? Well that's me, I always do stuff the hard way.

It took a while to get used to no deadlines, no customers, no pushing for sales, no software applications to complete reports. Here Monday morning meetings define the weekly schedule of activities based on rotation of what needs to be done driven by researchers and educators and rarely by external factors or parties. The team helped ease me into their routines and kindly allowed me enough flexibility to opt in or out of activities. Everyone works hard and has fun doing it.

It was a difficult concept to understand that walking and documenting flowers or kayaking on the lagoon and counting birds is actually work but behind the scenes there are valid reasons for these activities. How else are we to understand seasonal impact, environmental changes, species activity and development? Now it all makes sense.

Nature's Valley Trust certainly plays a major role in the community and is the go to group for everything in the area from Baboons in the house, injured sea life and birds, organizing activities for the community and educating the local school children. I hope the community realizes how lucky they are? I have never come across more dedicated team, always thinking outside the box to get keep things fresh and giving back to the area.

Our Volunteer Sam  in action!

Sam enjoying her experiences with NVT

I am happy that I made the choice to come here. Not only did I get the opportunity to see a different part of South Africa away from the big cities, the Tsitsikamma region is now firmly rooted in my heart but it gave me the chance to explore so many different aspects of conservation, research and education that I did not know existed. I have so many highlights it would be impossible to mention them all but here are a few:

  • Surprisingly Mark has managed to get me excited about birds. Who would have thought it? I am in love with Jackal Buzzards, Owls, Cape white-eye, Orange-breasted Sunbird and many more
  • Seeing the kids getting excited about sand under the microscope while testing one of the new adopt a beach courses
  • Spending time down in the pools for my Rocky Shore project and identifying the marine life. Shame I am such a terrible photographer
  • The general beauty of the region, hiking, kayaking in the open sea, Sup-boarding in Jbay, swimming with seals and catching a glimpse of those great white sharks
  • Of course the people I have met along the way

Travel is a bitter sweet experience, you are open to everything and everyone but unfortunately it must always come to an end. Who knows where I will end up, you never know I may be back one day.......but I have definitely gained a passion for conservation, ecology and education.

Thank you NVT Team!

It's better to look back on life and say "I can't believe I did that" than to look back and say "I wish I did that"-- Lessons learned

Sam in action

Thanks Sam for adding such great value!