EVS on-arrival training

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Our group from around Europe in Tallinn. (Photo by Laura García)

From Thursday 11th of June to Saturday 13th of June we were participating in EVS on- arrival training. This training was focused on informing all EVS volunteers in Estonia about EVS projects in general and also to get in contact to each other. During this weekend, we were in Viimsi, in a spa, with other 5 volunteers and with Kristel, our trainer.

The training consisted of different games about teambuilding and improving our knowledge about Estonia’s culture and EVS. For that purpose we started the day with traditional Estonian dances and some exercises in Estonian language and watched a documentary about Estonian history (the Singing Revolution). We also dedicated a lot of time to speak about our feelings and problems during EVS and how we can find solutions. For that we met Nele. She is coordinating all EVS projects in Estonia and explained us all about the EVS program: the organisation, our responsibilities and rights.

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EVS volunteers in Tallinn. (Photo by Laura García)

Friday we had the possibility to find our own topic for a mini project to learn more about Estonian people, lifestyle and culture. In two groups we walked in the old town of Tallinn to talk with Estonian people about food, music and work. Our last task was to find out how we can take the initiative during our EVS and think about own projects.

Talgud season is here

From June 5th to 7th  we took part in ELF’s training for talgud leaders. So, we’ll be well-prepared for the upcoming talgud season. Camp leaders in Soomaa gathered all around from all over Estonia to change ideas, insights and possible difficulties with each other.

The training began with some introduction and games to help participants to focus on the later tasks and to settle the good mood for the weekend. On Friday the whole day we were working in different groups. We had think about the possible difficulties that may arise during a talgud and as a camp leader how we would deal with them.

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Playing stone scissors paper. Photo by Maris Mägi 

Organizing a talgud consist of three important parts. Making the preparations before the camp, what to pay attention during the talgud and what things you should remember after the team have done the work.

Before a conservational holiday the most important thing is that you have to collect information about the working place (especially when you never done it before) and plan free time activities if it turns out there’s not much work to do there.

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Chilling on the river. Photo by Maris Mägi

During the work you have to make sure that everybody has something to do, everybody is working safely and soundly and of course every participants are happy. At the end you should return all the tools and equipment back to the talgud shed and collect all the photos that have been made during the talgud.

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Happy talgud leaders. Photo by Maris Mägi  

We also had to talk about our country’s nature before the whole group. But we had time to relax as well. During the day we swam in the river which was still very cold. And in the evening we had the chance to experience another smoke sauna. Spending long time in the sauna then jump into the cold river and doing it a few times, after it you will feel you born again.

Clearing sand mine for toads

On our second talgud we continued to work with the amphibian center. We took the same route from Tartu to Matsalu Bay like a week earlier. We enjoyed a good lunch in Viljandi and we spent the night at a house in the Estonian countryside, which was renovated from an old railway station. We had dinner on a watch-tower where we had a great view to the national park and an amazing sunset. We saw a few moose in the distance as they were grazing the fresh summer grass.

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Ready for clearing the site for the toads! (Marisol, Lena and Bálint)

The next day we had the task to clear the sand mine from bushes and smaller trees, because toads only populate in an environment where the area is clear from plants. The other task was to clear the small sandhills from grass and try to loosen the sand with spade, so the toads can find shelter and survive the winter.

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Marisol at work.

After the work was done, we had lunch inside an old windmill. Then we had time to enjoy the good weather and finally we headed back Tartu. On the way we stoped at an another watch-tower beside the Lake Võrtsjärv. The view was incredible we witnessed another awesome sunset.

Building greenhouses for toads

From 19th until 21st of May we spent our time at Penijöe amphibian restoration centre in Matsalu National Park, which is located in the west of Estonia. This national park is characterized by flooded meadows, coastal meadows, reed beds and forests, it includes Matsalu Bay and the delta area of the Kasari River. Thanks to vast meadow areas next to a coast, Matsalu is important for thousands of birds who stop here during their migration in spring and autumn.

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Happy builders in front of the greenhouse. (Bálint, Lena and Marisol)
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Tadpoles in the bucket.

One of the projects at the restoration amphibian centre is to collect tadpoles of natterjack toad from the surrounding nature and to bring them into the facility, where biologists bring them up and finally release them back into their natural habitat. This approach is necessary for the conservation of the biodiversity, because of changing conditions of the habitats endanger the population of the toads. Estonia has the northest natterjack toad population, so here the toads are more vulnerable due to the climate and declining habitat territories.

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A look inside the greenhouse.

So we helped out with some preparation of arrangements to host the toads during their next stadium of metamorphose. For this purpose we built two greenhouses, filled them with sand and covered the edges with grassy pieces of soil. This accommodation is suitable for the adult toads. Afterwards we got task to count many of tadpolles. We three counted 1537 of those tiny animals, wrote down the number and replaced them into other containers.