What employment sector do you work in?
How long have you had a green job for nature?
£30,000 – £40,000
Please describe the work that you do.
In my varied role, I develop landscape-scale nature recovery projects – this involves identifying sites that could support more nature, working with landowners and partners plus applying for funding.
I also lead our advocacy work, responding to threats to the natural environment (e.g. from development or policy) on behalf of the Trust and support others to do so. I try to influence decision-makers plus empower people to take positive action for nature as we cannot do it all ourselves!
What do you most like about your job? Any dislikes?
There is always so much to do – usually too much – but there is no chance of getting bored! I work with some great people, both colleagues at the Trust and also out in the community. I like using the knowledge I have gained – not just of ecology, but also of ‘how things work’ e.g. the planning system, or designations, to support others who want to protect nature or take positive action for nature, but just need some technical advice.
Dislikes – there is so much more that I as an individual, and we as a charity, would like to do, but we are constrained by resources e.g. funding!
What inspired you into this career?
I think watching David Attenborough programmes on TV, I fancied myself as a zoology field researcher and that is actually what I started doing. I was even lucky enough to work for a year studying the meerkats I had seen on the programme!
Ultimately, I love the natural world. I feel very strongly that as humans we are just part of it and need to respect nature and work with it – after all, it is looking after us all. So my work has evolved from understanding the behaviour of animals to conservation and trying to contribute a little bit to counter the nature and climate emergencies and to support others to do the same.
Have you faced any challenges in progressing your career so far?
Yes – I had to write a lot of letters and applications to secure a paid undergraduate placement. I finally got a paid placement for six months at the Institute for Terrestrial Ecology, which is now called the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (UKCEH). Then, I stayed on for another three months as a volunteer.
I also faced challenges securing jobs after my degree. I had to take some temporary work whilst applying for jobs and PhDs.
After my PhD, I decided not to stay in academia – with postdocs, you rarely stay in one place – you tend to get moved around on short-term contracts for years. I wasn’t sure that’s what I wanted to carry on doing, so I took a professional ecologist job I was offered (my bat licence was handy).
But after a year, I decided consultancy was not for me. (Plus I could not envisage being a professional bat ecologist with a young family). So, I left and had to take a sideways step to work for an environmental charity before I was able to step back into conservation.
I feel very lucky now that I have found work that suits both me and my skill set. I have been doing this type of work for 16 years now.
What education/training did you have?
I did my undergraduate degree in Applied Environmental Biology at Manchester University, between 1994 and 1998. The ‘applied’ aspect meant that I did a placement year in the middle of the degree. I chose that programme because I was interested in the environment, conservation and zoology. Although it was a long time ago, it gave me a good grounding. The placement year was extremely useful and led to further zoology research jobs for 3 years after I graduated. I then undertook a PhD at Leeds University in bat behaviour (autumn swarming focusing on the Natterer’s bat).
What advice would you give to someone coming into the profession?
Get involved in local projects and campaigns. Think about your transferable skills and network as much as possible. Get known and tell people you are looking for work.
For zoology research, ask universities if they’re looking for field assistants to help PhD students because these positions aren’t often advertised.
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Tags: England, NGO, policy, project manager, adviser