I came to Drie Kuilen Nature Reserve as a person who only had a little volunteering experience with no other work experience. Throughout the year I gained a valuable experience regarding conservation, working with people and personal growth that no one can ever take away from me. I learned many things: from how to handle criticism, working in a team and supervising it, working under pressure and how to build a healthy working environment to changing vehicle tyres. Working at Drie Kuilen NR has taught the abilities of working under pressure and still manage to deliver good quality work within the given time frame. It has also taught time management and I happy to say that I am coping very well with my studies and work at the same time. I have learnt how to solve a language barrier problem and I now apply that knowledge to my everyday work as I am working with people from different backgrounds and cultures.
Not only does the Drie Kuilen NR management provide field experience, but it also ensures that their students produce a good quality work of scientific value. It prepares student to be ready for future professional careers and to be able to perform any type of work, under any kind of circumstances and still come up with the best results.
I will forever be grateful for the assistance and support that I got during my year.
Drie Kuilen Nature Reserve was a heaven sent opportunity to me and my career. In a short space of time I gained a lot of experience and growth professionally. The honesty and kindness of the managers made me realise that hard work and passion can take you places. I got to meet different people from different places which improved my communication skills in the long run. The assistance we got while we were doing our own WIL project write-ups was very helpful. I will forever be grateful to the NCC for the opportunity, because of the experience I got from Drie Kuilen Nature Reserve I unlocked my strength, confidence and passion. I am a testimony of their value in real growth of people, planet and business.
The experience I had in Drie Kuilen was life changing. The leadership courses provided by the reserve made me conscious of who I was as a person. The courses also aided in making aware of the things that I desire for my future. The challenges experienced in the reserve did not only just prepare me for my professional career; the challenges also equipped me with skills that I utilise daily. I am thankful to the management of the reserve. The management did not only support me, they also made sacrifices which helped to pass my WIL year.
During my year at Drie Kuilen I was taught and learned a lot. Earlier this year my mentor asked me what I am passionate about in conservation and I said it is the Big Five. Seeing his dedication in conservation made me change my mind, because as the year went by, I started developing an interest in birds, plants and reptiles. Sometimes you do not know that you are passionate about something until you experience it.
My name is Tandiswa Mata, a third year Nature Conservation student at Nelson Mandela University, George campus. I am currently doing my WIL year at Drie Kuilen Nature Reserve through NCC Environmental Services.
This year for me has been a year of learning, growing up, making mistakes and learning from them. My knowledge and my passion have been growing through the help of my good mentor. At first, I thought some jobs were meant for guys, but we proved the ladies (me and my fellow female students) at Drie Kuilen can do anything and that includes doing vehicle checks, changing tyres, digging holes, making speed humps etc. I grew up being afraid of snakes and there were things we were told by our parents about animals attacking people, but through learning and interacting with animals you find out those were old folk tales. Now I am proud to say that I no longer fear snakes and I am always longing to see them in the field.
Through attending EQ (Emotional Intelligence) that was offered by NCC, I learnt a lot about myself, about others and leadership skills. Being far away from home was a challenge for me but I had to learn how to be independent and how to be strong and now I am independent. I wouldn’t mind staying another year away from my family and friends. Drie Kuilen managers, staff members and my fellow students became my new loving family.
I was fortunate enough to experience my experiential training in two different places. The first place was a typical idea of what people think conservation is and experiencing it showed me that it is far from the conservation that I wanted to do. This made me have second thoughts and a slow disliking towards conservation started to form.
Drie Kuilen Nature reserve was my second chance at conservation. My passion for it had dwindled and a feeling of “let me just get this over with” occurred. It did not take me to realise that conservation done the right way was definitely what I needed and love. Drie Kuilen offered me a taste of what I am truly passionate about. My passion for conservation is pure because my mentors push me to understand and the hands on approach they have makes it easy to learn and connect with them. Not many conservation projects care about the students they have but Drie Kuilen makes sure that the students that arrive on the reserve grow and mature in multiple ways. Not every day is easy but that is the beauty of it because you get to experience conservation the easy way and the hard way. One wrong turn in conservation led me to a place that has changed me for the better.
The year thus far at Drie Kuilen nature Reserve has been such a roller coaster of growth. However, there were more highs than lows. The highs just got higher and the lows seemed to disappear the more time spent at the reserve. Having mentors who are genuinely interested in your wellbeing and growth as a person and student is not something that every student in conservation has the luxury to experience. From the get go every day has a “WOW!” moment. From seeing sheep giving birth to fighting a fire for 48 hours. Drie Kuilen has taught me not only hard skills but also soft skills which I did not know I had or could have. Emotional intelligence has been the biggest eye opener and most important tool added to my tool box. Every person and experience at DKNR was either a blessing or a lesson and both of those are positives. I will forever carry the memories and teaching moments in my heart and where ever I go. I am proud to be a product of DKNR.
In such a short period of time that I have been here in Drie Kuilen Nature Reserve I have grown so much. Being the last WIL student to join the team one would think I have been here for as long as the other students. Meeting new people is always exciting for me and meeting people who are as passionate and driven as you are is a bonus. It is through our common passion and ambition about conservation that we encourage each other and challenge ourselves. Being pushed to what I thought was a limit has made me discover that I had so much strength within me. I always thought there was a limit to one’s ability, today that thought is no longer in my mind.Thanks to being in Drie Kuilen, I can now confidently say and believe that I am a strong, smart, brave young lady who is truly passionate about wildlife.My time here has been a wonderful adventure; I have learnt about plants that I had partial knowledge on, birds and leadership which has now expanded.