What employment sector do you work in?

NGO

How long have you had a green job for nature?

4 years

Salary Range

£30,000 – £40,000

Please describe the work that you do.

I run the trading arm of the Forth Rivers Trust, an environmental charity. In my role, I manage the day-to-day consultancy needs, tendering, project management, and invoicing. I also get stuck into fieldwork, which includes eDNA, Phase 1 habitat, fish, otter, and FWPM surveys, as well as fish rescues, ECoW, and providing advice to developers.

I also get involved in the project work the consultancy helps fund, like tree planting and weir removal.

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

Every day is different. The Forth Catchment includes densely populated cities and towns, coastal villages, and the rugged mountains of the Trossachs. One day, I might be surveying a rust-red river to determine if any fish are present downstream of heavy acid mine drainage, and the next, I could be snorkelling in pristine waters looking for freshwater pearl mussels.

Working in water has its disadvantages, especially in winter. However, in recent summers, we have cancelled electrofishing surveys due to high water temperatures, and last year, there was flooding in August. The extremes of drought and flooding that our rivers and wildlife are now experiencing is likely to worsen with climate change and it is worrying to see this first-hand.

What inspired you into this career? 

I have always been passionate about animals. After reading books like Cry of the Kalahari and the Serengeti Shall Not Die, I dreamed about a career as a vet or a wildlife conservationist in Africa. However, I applied to study Ecology instead as it seemed a better fit for me. Since graduating, I have worked throughout the UK, although I have also volunteered on several occasions in South Africa.

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

It can be difficult to secure a permanent contract until more experienced. I found career progression involved a greater diversity of work, but combining several seasons of late nights and early starts for great crested newt (GCN) and bat surveys, on top of an increasing workload of project management, reporting, and other responsibilities, was tough.

I also struggled to move from the private to the third sector. After applying for many conservation roles, eventually, the right position opened up at the Forth Rivers Trust. I could use my consultancy experience while working for an environmental charity.

What education/training did you have?

I have a BSc in Ecological Science (Conservation and Ecological Management) from Edinburgh University.

Since then, I have completed several courses, including training to obtain and maintain GCN (Great Crested Newt), FWPM (Freshwater Pearl Mussel), and electrofishing licences, Field Identification Skills Certification (FISC) for botany, and River Habitat Survey training. I have also completed health and safety training including emergency first aid and IOSH (the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health qualification).

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

Cultivating and maintaining professional contacts from university, work, or volunteering roles is really valuable and can open doors.

In a new job get stuck in, help colleagues out with anything and everything, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Tags: Scotland, NGO, advisers, ecologist, project manager

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