21st June 2013, 3:32pm
Student podcast campaign breathes new life into nature reserve
Lincoln students with Michael Coplestone of the RSPB A fascinating series of podcasts produced by creative Lincoln students is being used to highlight important environmental issues affecting one of the East Midlands’ most precious wildlife reserves.

Final year undergraduates from the University of Lincoln’s School of Media have created five awareness-raising podcasts as part of a unique partnership with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

The RSPB at Beckingham Marshes in Lincolnshire tasked students Matthew Leonowicz, Laura Kitchen and Katherine Harris with a live brief to produce innovative soundscapes that would capture the voices of real people who have seen and worked on the reserve’s changing landscape.

Beckingham Marshes is a major habitat creation project on the River Trent floodplain and is a partnership project between the RSPB and The Environment Agency. Currently in the third year of a five-year project to create a wet grassland habitat and provide a visitor infrastructure appropriate for the site, the marshes will support a variety of breeding waders, wildfowl, water voles, brown hares, dragonflies, and barn owls.

Advised by Senior Lecturer at the Lincoln School of Media, Dylan Roys, the team created five podcasts exploring themes of energy, the history of the land, willow and the willow works, birdsong and wildlife. The team’s podcasts will now be featured nationally on the RSPB website, as well as the reserve site for Beckingham Marshes.

Michael Copleston, Site Manager at Beckingham Marshes, said: “The RSPB at Beckingham Marshes has been really impressed with the students from the Lincoln School of Media. As part of a Heritage Lottery Funded project, we were keen for the podcasts to be creative and inclusive.

“The students more than achieved this goal with a fantastic set of podcasts that engaged with local farmers, Beckingham Primary School and local history groups, to name just a few involved in the project. They were fun to make for all the team, and the end product is a really professional job that we are extremely pleased with.”

Further to their success, the team behind the podcasts has also established its own experimental sound company. The trio of Media students launched Revolution Box Media earlier this year, and will continue to work together following their graduation this summer.

Matthew Leonowicz said: “We have worked together as a team for two years, and this was a fantastic project to end our University careers on. It was a wonderful experience to work with Michael and the team at Beckingham Marshes, and we have considerably developed our skills throughout the whole process.

“It was a pleasure to meet and work with the local residents and community groups around Beckingham Marshes, and we hope that our work is successful in raising awareness about the importance of the reserve.”

The partnership with the RSPB is one of many live briefs completed by students from the Lincoln School of Media. Completing commissions such as this provides a client-focussed environment for the students to work in, and contributes to their preparation for employment after university.

For more information and to listen to the podcasts, visit www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/guide/b/beckinghammarshes/stories.aspx or www.revboxmedia.blogspot.co.uk.
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