Two groups of engineering students from Coleg Cambria Deeside undertook a day of community activity as part of their BTEC Level 2 Certificate in Workskills, working at Talacre Beach helping the coastal rangers with the protection of natterjack toad breeding ponds.

Beginning of the year both groups received a visit from Tim Johnson, Flintshire County Council Countryside Ranger and Project co-ordinator; Kim Norman, Land Management Adviser for ENI and Phil Rodgers, Talacre Ranger for ENI, informing them about a problem they face at Talacre Dunes:  In 2017 natterjack toads (an endangered species) spawn strings (eggs) and young tadpoles were predated and lost at 4 ponds. The suspected predators were Mallard duck, herring gull and crows.

The students were asked to use their engineering and design skills to create pond protections to prevent predators gaining access to the ponds from April to late summer. They discussed various ideas with the rangers on the day and then drew up their own designs over the following weeks.

Very impressed with the range of ideas the students had designed the rangers chose three different designs, ranging from a floating recycled plastic bottle design to stop the predators landing on the pond, to an elaborate post and wire design and a design involving a retractable curtain across the pond.

Recently the learners got the opportunity to put their design into practice by building the pond protections with the guidance of the rangers and their engineering lecturers Anke Kadelka-Williams and Joanne Breeze.

The rangers will now monitor the ponds over this breeding season to see which of the designs is most effective and will be used on different sites in the future.  This volunteering activity provided the students with a valuable insight into environmental engineering, and the process from design to finished product.

Anke Kadelka-Williams, Workskills tutor and engineering lecturer said:

“All students participated very well in all stages of the volunteering activity and enjoyed the opportunity to gain an insight into environmental engineering and working in a sustainable manner; learning new and improving existing interpersonal and manual skills that will aid them in their future careers”.

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