It’s not often that you’re offered the opportunity to work in and be part of an institution such as a natural park. Mi EVS in this field takes place in Kaunas, the Lithuanian city where, for 6 months, I was able to live firsthand how the administration, direction and organization of a 9.869-hectars natural park work.
During the project I had the chance to work along with professionals in the environment field, rangers and biologists that showed me flora and fauna species that I hadn’t seen before, they taught me work techniques and methodologies that I didn’t know and valuable resources for environmental education, as well as a landscape and nature that were different from those I’m used to. However, I was able to put into practice the knowledge I had acquired at university, after I got my degree in Environmental Science.
“Kauno Mario” Natural Park is situated in the middle of Lithuania, near the second most important city in the country, Kaunas. This nature reserve consists of a big lagoon that houses a great variety of aquatic species, as well as forest areas with an important natural value. Hence the name, since “Kauno Mario” means “Lagoon of Kaunas” in Lithuanian. During the year the park welcomes volunteers, interns and people doing exchanges that noticeably help to keep the institution working. That’s why during the whole stay, you share your knowledge with other people and learn from them.
During the project I developed various different tasks, according to the needs of the park in each moment. You can carry out activities related to nature and the protection and creation on natural heritage with the specialists; you can be involved in manual works, such as pruning trees and recollect waste; or you can monitor the fauna and the visitors.
Talking about the country, Lithuania is a small country (a population of a little more than 3 and a half million), where people are friendly and respectful and have strong cultural and historic values that can be perceived in any city that you visit. And the food is delicious and enviable: it’s difficult for me to say which my favourite food from this country is, there are too many to choose. Regarding the language, learning or trying to understand Lithuanian is a real challenge. But luckily as part of the project I could take Lithuanian classes during three months, which helped me to get a very basic but very useful knowledge of the language, so that I was able to deal with everyday situations. However, young people speak fluent English, while older people understand and speak both Lithuanian and Russian.
Talking about the weather (a detail you should really take into consideration), I have to say that in Lithuania it rains a lot, even in the hottest days, and that’s why the name of the country comes from “lietus”, which means “rain” in Lithuanian. This is the reason why the country is so green and its environment and landscape are so rich.
Lastly, I strongly recommend this project to people who, just like me, love nature and value the protection on the environment, in the face of the menaces against nature and the frailty of the species that live there. This is why I decided to participate in this project: its direct consequences towards the protection and conservation of natural spaces.