To celebrate the College’s 650th Anniversary, Old Members of the College set up a Trust Fund to disburse awards in the region of £150 - £500 for a variety of cultural and sporting activities. Any student can apply for an award.
Brittany Maxted (Biological Sciences)
'This summer I was the fortunate recipient of a £350 grant from the 650th Anniversary Trust Fund Committee as a contribution towards a two-week volunteering expedition to the Honduran Cloud Forest of Central America. During my time in Honduras I worked for the charity Operation Wallacea, assisting scientists from across the world in assessing the biodiversity of the Cusuco National Park.
The charity has worked at this site yearly since 2005, and the scientific findings published as a direct result have been instrumental in gaining the park its funding and world renowned status. All of the assessments which we performed are to be used in the development of a Carbon Credit scheme which will provide long-term financial income for the protection of the park and employment for its inhabitants.
I travelled from Heathrow airport on Tuesday 5th of July, transferring at Miami to the city of San Pedro Sula, where we stayed the night in the Gran Hotel Sula. The next morning, we were taken in buses to the village of Cofridia, where, along with our bags, we were transferred to the back of pick-up trucks and driven up to a Basecamp, which lay 1500 metres above sea level. The first three days of our expedition were spent here in tents, where we received lectures on identifying local flora and fauna, and practice in surveying habitat plots and transects. For the next three days we undertook ‘Jungle Training’, during which we trekked through the forest, carrying all of our food and equipment with us, sleeping in hammocks and showering in waterfalls. Upon returning to Basecamp we then trekked down to the satellite camp Guanales, at 1000 metres, where we spent the next week putting our training into use.
We undertook four transects for each faunal group studied: Birds, Invertebrates and Herps (reptiles and amphibians), alongside habitat plot evaluations and evening moth trapping. The field skills which I have gained through assisting with this research will be extremely valuable to me as I enter the second year of my degree and, additionally, in future employment. My knowledge of natural history has also been vastly improved, as has my ability to speak and understand the Spanish language.
This was a trip of many firsts for me: travelling on an aeroplane, travelling outside of Europe, and travelling without family. It has given me great new confidence in myself, expanded my outlook and increased my eagerness to explore, both within and outside of my own country. Whilst before travelling out to Central America I believed that my greatest interests would lie in the biological aspects of this trip, I now believe that the many cultural interactions have left an equally lasting impression upon me. During my time in Honduras I made many new friends, in the form of volunteers, scientists and locals alike, many of whom I continue remain in contact with, and hope to see again in the near future. I have also gained academic contacts in a variety of biological fields, which will be extremely valuable to me in the pursuit of further experience.
This has been an unforgettable experience and one which I would highly recommend to any current or future students with biological interests. I am extremely grateful to the Old Members for their contribution and would like to thank them for their support.'