What employment sector do you work in?
How long have you had a green job for nature?
£30,001 – £40,000
Please describe the work that you do.
I run my own environmental consultancy and work mainly with conservation organisations like the RSPB, Government departments and Internal Drainage Boards (IDB). They contract me if they need an experienced pair of hands to take forward a project. My work involves supporting farmers to manage their land for conservation and supporting IDB’s to manage the rivers for biodiversity. I need persuasion, project management skills, survey skills and practical knowledge. I don’t work for developers.
What do you most like about your job? Any dislikes?
I love feeling like I am doing something of real, lasting value for nature and have the ability to change things on a large scale either by persuading a farmer to restore a wetland or by encouraging the drainage boards to adopt natural flood management. I get endlessly frustrated by red tape which ends up restricting people trying to do good things for wildlife as much as it prevents habitat destruction. I also sometimes get frustrated at the slow progress to really motivate farmers to do more for wildlife but mainly am encouraged that farmers do want to do the right thing if given the proper support.
What inspired you into this career?
I volunteered for a couple of weeks at the RSPB Loch Garten Osprey Project when I left university and felt that working with nature was for me. I also received the best advice: If you don’t know what to do for a career then look at the thing that inspired you when you were young, for me that was nature.
Have you faced any challenges in progressing your career so far?
I faced discrimination in the early days as there were so few working-class women in conservation. I am delighted that things have got better but there are still too few means-tested, paid opportunities for people starting out. Volunteering for months or years before you get a job is just not realistic for people from low-income backgrounds.
What education/training did you have?
I started out with an unrelated degree and did about 8 months of volunteering with the RSPB and community forests before I got my first paid job. I then did a distance learning Postgraduate Diploma in Countryside Management at Birkbeck College while I was working. The best training I have received has been while doing the job, especially being thrown in at the deep end, although this can be stressful.
What advice would you give to someone coming into the profession?
Turn up on time and work hard, even if you are a volunteer. Be respectful but show your skills. Don’t just look at working for the big names but consider a small operator as you may learn ten times as much and be given more opportunities than with a large firm or charity.