Cambridge University Botanic Garden


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Hi, I’m Eve, I’m 19 years old and I have lived near Cambridge my entire life. I am currently on a gap year and hope to study geography at university next year. I think Cambridge is a fascinating city that always holds surprises; the Botanic Garden is an example of this. Despite living near the city for so long it wasn’t until a few years ago that I first went to the Garden and was amazed by the vibrancy of it. I am currently lucky enough to have the opportunity to volunteer at the botanic garden.

I heard about volunteering at the Botanic Garden through a friend whose mum works there and I sent in an e-mail asking if I could volunteer. I have previously been a volunteer for the National trust.


The greenhouses at the Cambridge University Botanic Garden

I only recently started volunteering for the Garden but I already love it, the team of both the other volunteers and the people that work at the Garden are great. I mainly help out in the education department with school visits and other family events such as the clay cacti event. I enjoy helping out with the craft activities the most, I greatly enjoy art and photography. Since finishing my art A level I miss doing creative things and this is a great opportunity to blend both my interests in art and in nature. Being around the Garden so much is great because it means that I have many opportunities to take loads of photos in a really interesting place.

Cambridge is a wonderful place for volunteering opportunities; it has so many museums in the city and in the surrounding area there are lots of other organisations that are always looking for volunteers such as the National Trust and the RSPB. I have previously volunteered for the National Trust as a Conservation Assistant at Melford Hall, I had a good time and learnt a lot in the process, many a day was spent hunting for woodworm. My advice for people looking for volunteering opportunities is to keep trying! Email as many people as you can, and don’t give up if some places don’t get back to you or are full, there will be somewhere where you can help out, after all, not many people will pass up on free help!

My best memory (so far) of volunteering at the Botanic Garden is of helping out at an event that was called Clay Cacti, and guess what – it involved making cacti out of clay. I’m pretty sure that I had more fun than the children that it was aimed at, I spent much of the time happily making ‘demonstration’ cacti. I also chatted a lot to the other volunteers; volunteering is a great way to meet interesting people.

Crazy for Cacti - Eve helping at the Clay Cacti Family Activities Day.

Crazy for Cacti – Eve helping at the Clay Cacti Family Activities Day.

The role that the Botanic Garden plays in the cultural importance of Cambridge should not be underestimated. Each museum features a different subject matter which all combine to provide experiences that will appeal to everyone’s interests. The Botanic Garden appeals directly to those with an interest in biology, geography and nature, however it appeals to others too. The Garden provides a much needed sanctuary for both nature and people in the centre of a busy city.

The fact that many of the museums in Cambridge are free is extremely appealing, especially to younger people who may not have the cash to spare to visit a museum which charges an entry fee.

Social media also enables the museums to reach a far wider audience, after all many younger people are more likely to look at Twitter than read a newspaper.

I’ve always had an interest in museums, my favourite is the Natural History Museum in London, it’s free and is well worth a visit, though my advice is to avoid weekends if you can since due to its popularity it can get very busy. Since volunteering at the Botanic Garden I have had an opportunity to see behind the scenes and look at how it is managed. I don’t know what the future holds after my degree but working in somewhere like the Botanic Garden is definitely an option.

If I had my own museum it would contain a little bit of everything since I’m interested in a lot of different subjects and always want to know more.

I like Cambridge as a city because it is always surprising me. This summer was the first time that I saw the colleges from the river, my friend has a canoe so we paddled down the river and I was amazed by this section of the city that I had never seen before since it isn’t as easily accessible by foot, only by water.

One of my favourite free things to do in Cambridge is to go on the river. Many times this summer my friends and I piled into the canoe (it’s quite a large canoe) with a speaker for music and a lot of food to picnic alongside the river. Another thing that I like to do is to sightsee, its actually rather fun to be a tourist in your own town. And of course I love to visit the museums.

I’m the one who always has a camera with me. I love photography and the Botanic Garden has loads of fascinating things to photograph. I took the pictures that can be seen here (apart from the Clay Cacti shot) when I was at the Garden last week.

Stunning succulents and gorgeous curiosities growing in the Cambridge University Botanic Garden.

Stunning succulents and gorgeous curiosities growing in the Cambridge University Botanic Garden.

My aim is to find a job where I’m not tied to an office and can enjoy the natural world whilst helping to conserve it.

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