barn owl rescue.jpgManon Tissidre, manager at the LPO Aquitaine centre of care, giving a barn owl a last check before its released back into the wild. This barn owl is one of hundreds injured on Europe’s roads every day .

I went on a barn owl reintroduction road trip recently with young Matteo, a 21-year-old dude from Bordeaux, who felt like he flunked school and didn’t really know where his future was heading. I reminded him that this was totally normal and that he actually has the world at his fingertips so he can grab any opportunity he wants.

Matteo decided that he would enrole with the french ‘Civique service’ scheme. It is a government-funded scheme for young people between the ages of 16-25. The scheme is a paid work experience opportunity over a set period of time that participants can carry out in France or abroad. The work placements have to cover a range of subjects to give the student the best chance of trying out working in several different industries they may be interested in.

Matteo receives approximately 560 euros a month from the scheme to help with travel and living expenses. To begin with he chose to complete 7 months with the LPO centre of care in Aquitaine, a wildlife hospital that rescues and rehabilitates wild animals. Most of these animals have suffered injuries from the result of human activity such as road traffic incidents or rodenticide poisoning.

matteo and manon.jpgMatteo, Manon and a head dude from the LPO checking the second barn owls eyes are nice and bright before release. This barn owl had received a nasty injury to its eye when the car hit him, the eye is now fully recovered and he is now ready to hunt again.

The LPO is a large wildlife organisation that operates all over France and has its own individual working charity bodies in each county. They are very similar to the RSPB focusing on birds, but they also help with mammal, reptile, amphibian, fish and invertebrate conservation.

Manon Tissidre the manager of the centre allows volunteers to be hands on within their first few days helping at the LPO, which has enabled many young people like Matteo to gain valuable and important experience with conserving European wildlife. A lot of civic service students work here and go on to follow careers in conservation and a few have even gained employment with the LPO after proving their dedication with hours of voluntary work. I take my hat off to Manon, she has an incredible way of managing people and makes you feel like part of the family as soon as you step through the door.

For me, Manon has the best job in the world and is a fountain of wildlife knowledge. She didn’t get this job because of an expensive qualification. She travelled different animal hospitals around the world and gained valuable work experience with them, including ‘Tiggywinkles’ wildlife hospital in England. Matteo is certainly in the right hands if he wants a future in conservation.

barn owl check.jpgManon checks over every animal thoroughly before release to ensure all injuries have healed and each individual is fit enough to cope with life back out in the wild.

For young people deciding what to do can be a stressful difficult task, we shouldn’t be closing doors and ushering them all through to places we think would be best for them, we should be encouraging them to dip their own toes in to different waters before they take the choice to dive in…. because they need to be able to cope with what they are going to find.

‘Civique service’ enables young people to take a glimpse into the real world and test out some of the natural skills they already have, without getting themselves into a lifetimes worth of debt. I wish I’d had the opportunity to do this when I was younger…..

matteo and madame politeMatteo and the rehabilitated owls, (in the boxes!), alongside the members of public who found one of the injured owls. Fortunately the rescuers have the ideal release space for the owls, a hundred year old barn in the countryside of Dordogne. A happy ending for a tragic everyday occurrence of a magnificent species.

Thanks for readingand remember to…#dosomethinggreat

K x

Link to Civique service website –

Link to France LPO –

Barn owl info –

Wildlife road mortality –