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Alice's experience in branch development

Alice Ashpitel Alice Ashpitel Photo: © Alice Ashpitel

I was a branch development intern for two months at CPRE in the summer between my third and fourth year at Oxford University. 

I study earth sciences and love spending as much time as possible outdoors, because of this I was really keen to experience working in an environmentally focused organisation. The internship at CPRE sounded like a perfect way for me to gain valuable work experience doing something I am passionate about. National Office has such a friendly atmosphere, everyone is willing to lend a hand and take time out of their day to make you feel welcome and explain their work. Working here I‘ve had the chance to experience all the different areas of CPRE’s work.

I was lucky to have many interesting and varied tasks during my internship. During my first week I helped run the inaugural staff network, which was a hugely successful day, bringing branch staff together from across the country. I was in charge of writing the minutes up and working out our actions arising from this. One of the most rewarding projects I worked on was implementing a new awards scheme for branches to give to their dedicated volunteers, seeing this through from start to finish was incredibly satisfying. I had to; design a new set of certificates, advise branches, source materials, cost the awards and even make friends with the local engraver. Finally sending the first sets of awards off was both exciting and a huge relief! I also worked on branch health checks, created a new way of monitoring branch’s progress, researched joint branch working examples for an issue of Countryside Voice and commissioned a new annual report template. Another of my favourite tasks was helping create a ‘top lines’ document summarising CPRE’s position on many different issues and why we feel this way. I got to speak to experts in a variety of fields and see how much positive work CPRE is doing.

Of course you cannot discuss working at National Office without mentioning the highlight of the week, afternoon tea! This is actually less of a tea and more of a second lunch at 4pm, with the spread including cheeses, crackers, fruit, vegetables, bread, dips, biscuits, cakes and puddings!

I feel like I have learnt far more than I expected to here. It’s hard to boil down the experience into a couple of paragraphs and list all of the skills and knowledge I have gained from working at CPRE. It has definitely been a rewarding experience working with such an enthusiastic team and I have loved the chance to help protect England’s countryside. I will continue to follow all CPRE’s great work and miss everyone I have met and worked with here (as well as all the cake)!

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