What employment sector do you work in?

NGO

How long have you had a green job for nature?

12 months

Salary Range

< £20,000

Please describe the work that you do.

My role with Yorkshire Peat Partnership is to assist with peatland restoration. This could be surveys, monitoring, mapping or engagement work.

Restoring peatlands is done by trying to rewet them, this is achieved by interventions such as peat, timber or stone dams. The next stage is to revegetate, which is done by plug planting with peatland species most notably sphagnum moss. We then monitor the restoration work to see how successful the work has been.

What do you most like about your job? Any dislikes?

My favourite thing is to have my lunch on a bog. It’s a great moment during the day when you get to relax and take in where you are, which is usually on a hill, in the middle of nowhere being rained on. I also really enjoy the ID skills I’ve learnt and getting to know the vegetation in more detail.

The birds on peatlands are also amazing. Curlews, lapwings, meadow pipits and short-eared owls. I’ve really enjoyed the more technical side to the role, learning QGIS and the evaluation of the peatlands that helps to plan restoration.

A dislike is probably that there’s so much to learn. It was a steep learning curve and I really enjoyed the challenge but, I’d like to be able to fit more information in my head.

What inspired you into this career? 

Nature and the environment have always been a great interest of mine. I’m really interested in soil and its interaction with the world above along with its ability to hold carbon.

I wanted a career change and decided to dedicate the time to gaining a career in a sector I was interested in. I did this by volunteering at different organisations and community groups. I also attended webinars and read a lot of books. When the job came up in peatlands it seemed like the ideal fit.

Have you faced any challenges in progressing your career so far? 

I think the biggest challenge is getting your foot in the door. Working full time I had to volunteer on my weekends or take time off work to attend volunteer days.

My lack of formal education in a related subject was also a barrier on most job applications. A lot of the traineeships being advertised were either voluntary or very low pay, I wasn’t in a position to take a job that didn’t cover my bills.

What education/training did you have?

Before starting this job I had a college BTEC in an unrelated subject.

What advice would you give to someone coming into the profession? 

Volunteer, as much as it might take up a lot of your free time there’s free training and you get to know people working in the sector.

If you’re just about to start your first job in the sector my advice would be to take every opportunity and take as many training opportunities as possible. Do make sure you take rest days though! There’s a lot to learn and take in, so give yourself a chance to rest.

Tags: Academia sector, England, Conservation, Data and mapping, Ecologists, Forestry, Project managers, marine roles, freshwater environment, New to Nature trainee, career changer

Find Alex’s blog here:

https://www.yppartnership.org.uk/blog/alex-smith

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