My Wild Life: Erica Williams
Hi I'm Erica - I'm 30 years old and live on the Isle of Wight. I’ve had a passion for wildlife and nature, especially the marine side of things, since I was a kid. I spent a lot of time hunting for crabs and shells at the beach when I was young, though it was aquariums and zoos that truly sparked my interest, as it gave me the opportunity to see a host of species up close.
I believe it's very important for people to make an effort to look after the natural world. We all rely on it in some way, whether for recreation, work, entertainment or as a way to relax. Being out in nature helps relieve the stresses in your life, and for me there's nothing more rewarding than helping to care for it.
Becoming a Marine Champion
I first became involved in the Wildlife Trust's project Secrets of the Solent through fundraising for it. I organised a Swimathon to support the project, and in the weeks leading up the event I met Emily - the Community Engagement Officer in the project team. She suggested I volunteer as a Marine Champion, and at the risk of sounding cheesy the role really spoke to me; I knew it would give me the opportunity to get involved with something I am truly passionate about.
I have found the experience extremely rewarding, and have particularly enjoyed the intertidal surveys as there's nothing like scrambling over rocks searching for marine life. But volunteering in this way has also been an education, and with Emily's support I have been able to expand the activities I organise for my community through my workplace.
"I definitely think people and businesses should try and do more for their community, if for no other reason than to show that they care and want to do their part."
Wild at work
I work for Costa Coffee in Cowes, and during my time there I've brought my passion for nature into our store's community work. I've organised and run beach cleans, and also fundraisers like the Swimathon. Since becoming a Marine Champion I've also organised the Solent Species Trail, which was a collaboration between Costa, the Wildlife Trust, and various shops in central Cowes to show people the species we have on our doorstep.
When I first started organising community activities for Costa I was especially concerned about public opinion in Cowes, as there had been a lot of backlash about the store in the months leading up to its opening. But as it turns out our beach cleans have been a big success - though a learning curve - and the project has gone from strength to strength.
I personally do these activities in the hopes of setting a positive example for younger generations, and because I believe that conservation starts on our doorstep. I definitely think people and businesses should try and do more for their community, if for no other reason than to show that they care and want to do their part.
What can you do?
Many thanks to Erica for sharing her brilliant story with us. If you're keen to make a difference through your workplace or community activities, why not consider becoming a Marine Champion too? Our project Secrets of the Solent offers support and resources to help local people make a difference for our marine environment