I was able to attend the Bristol Festival of Nature thanks to a grant from the British Ecological Society. I was fortunate to be the first beneficiary of the Regional Funding Scheme which provides support for researchers to undertake public engagement activities.
The Bristol Festival of Nature is the UK’s largest celebration of the natural world with two days of free interactive activities and entertainment across Bristol’s Harbourside. I had a stall in the Green Forum tent in Millenium Square and spent two days talking with the public about soil health and earthworms, with activities including handling and identifying live earthworms and a ‘count the number of earthworms in the wormery’ competition – with a prize for the winner. It was also a great opportunity promote my citizen science project Earthworm Watch, explain the survey methods and recruit citizen scientists to the project. Despite torrential rain, I spoke to 200 people over the weekend and also did my first ever radio interview for local natural history show Shepherds Way – see 22 June 2016 if you would like to listen.
I am very grateful to the British Ecological Society for making it possible to run this stall to raise awareness of the importance of earthworms and promote my project and would highly recommend ecologists interested in public engagement apply the scheme.