Meet the Volunteers


Hi my name is Jara Dominguez, I come from Seville in Spain. After completing my degree in biological science I decided to come to Ireland to volunteer for Lagan Valley Regional Park. I wanted to gain work experience as well as discover another country. I volunteered for three months and worked on a survey about three invasive species: Himalayan balsam, Giant Hogweed and Japanese Knotweed.The findings were very important because their spread threatens habitats and species with economic and environmental harm.

I surveyed the whole park, from Stranmillis to Union Locks, covering all areas on foot. I took grid references for each species (with GPS) and notes on each location to guide any future work. I really enjoyed my project, I got on very well with the staff, which were really friendly and always helped me in all I needed. My social life was brilliant too! I shared a flat with people from all over Europe and I made some very close friends who I'm still in contact with today.


VolunteerI chose to volunteer because, having recently retired from a somewhat sedentary career, I wanted to do something completely different, useful, and enjoyable.
Volunteering has done all that, and introduced me to new activities, experiences, and people; not to mention learning a lot about the flora and fauna of the Lagan Valley.

It's great craic, be it slashing brambles, collecting rubbish, planting trees, making bird boxes, or mulching seeds.

I was born, educated, lived, and worked in the Lagan Valley and so have always been aware of the towing path and its hinterland, but when I go for a walk now and pass a ragwort-free field, or an area clear of undergrowth, I get great pleasure in saying to myself "I did that".

To anyone thinking of volunteering I can only say, give it a go. It's only as physical as you want it to be. There's no hard and fast regime, and you don't have to do anything you don't fancy; having said that, you won't know what you'll like until you try it.


I've always loved being out in nature and enjoyed walking with my dog along the towpath most days in summer. I picked up a couple of leaflets at the new Lock Keeper's Visitor Centre and noticed an advert for volunteers, sent an email to get more information and decided to go along to find out what was involved.

I found a lovely like minded group of people of various ages who were very happy to get involved in whatever work came up during the volunteer task of the day. So far we have planted trees, cleared overgrown woodland and learned the basics of building a willow bird hide. You choose to come along to the tasks you are interested in and need only put in as much or as little effort as you are physically able but it all helps towards looking after our environment.

I have enjoyed every minute of the experiences and it's not all work, there's plenty of general chat and craic. I find it educational and excellent exercise. The coordinator is very informative and passes on interesting little tips such as how to tell the difference between trees when they are out of leaf and that we have newts living where we didn't expect them.

I'd recommend volunteering to everyone who is interested in the environment - just come along and see what you think - meet people of a similar outlook and enjoy a day working on a worthwhile cause. Just add wellies and a raincoat!

Lagan Valley Regional Park has an exciting range of volunteer opportunities. If you are interested in volunteering you can get involved in any of the following:

  • Saturday Conservation Volunteers
  • Wildlife surveying
  • Volunteer Rangers
  • Heritage Guides

For more information on all of these opportunities check out volunteering section, or to speak to our Volunteer Coordinator call us on 028 90 491922.