Interning for the RRC

Guest blog: Jo Goad, RRC summer intern 2021

Beginning a career seems daunting for most 20-year-olds and internships are great ways to gain some insight into the sector. When emailing around for project ideas for my Geography undergraduate dissertation, I contacted the RRC and I also asked if they had any opportunities for work experience or interning. As you might be able to tell, I have just finished my internship with the team and wanted to give an overview of what I’ve been up to. The degree I’m studying doesn’t offer a rivers module, so this opportunity has been a valuable insight into the sector. I spoke to Marc, Hannah, James, and John about their career path and their education which helped me to think about future jobs and education as well as learning about how the RRC works.

The RRC is an important organisation because it is non-for-profit so will offer un-biased advice based on goals and evidence. They also have a long history in river restoration with over five thousand case studies in the National River Restoration Inventory which includes details on techniques, cost, river channel features, funding, and a summary of the project. One of my tasks was to assign the projects in the NRRI an ID according to the themes of measures taken. Themes included climate change, nature-based solutions, stage 0/ floodplain reconnection, green infrastructure, natural capital, citizen science and rewilding. This way, when an enquiry based on these themes is proposed to the RRC, they can use my categorisations to search for examples. The RRC also has a costing database which uses information from the NRRI to give an estimation of costs for a proposed project. As some of these projects date back to 1995, I also tried to incorporate inflation data into the costing calculations. To supplement cost estimations, I wrote a caveat report which explains where the data comes from and any contextual factors that may affect costs. 

The RRC has hosted an annual conference since 2002 and posters and presentations from these days have been uploaded to the website. I was asked to sort these conference outputs into themes (citizen science, climate change, green infrastructure, natural capital, natural flood management, nature-based solutions, rewilding, stage 0/floodplain reconnection, and working with natural processes) to make searching for case studies and ideas easier. Conference outputs cover the whole of Great Britain and include a wide range of techniques making it a valuable, visual source of information for any group looking to undertake a river restoration project of their own. I also included a section on Special Sites of Scientific Interest and Special Areas of Conservation to provide insight into the types of projects being carried out in particularly important habitats.

In terms of project work, I helped the Science and Technical team to carry out flyovers on Google Earth Pro of river reaches in Bulgaria. This was to identify the types of pressures on rivers here, providing the groundwork for Bulgarian national freshwater policy. I also wrote up some one-page summaries of projects that the RRC has advised on which will be published on the website soon. This will give further insight into the types of projects and advice that the RRC give. Finally, I spent the day touring my local river, the River Ouse in Sussex, and taking pictures of it for a blog post that I wrote that will also be published on the RRC website.

It has definitely been a busy three weeks! But I have really enjoyed my time at the RRC and have been impressed by the amount of information and expertise that they have. My time interning here has cemented my interest in rivers and opened my eyes to the range of careers there are within the sector.


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