What employment sector do you work in?

NGO Sector

How long have you had a green job for nature?

23 years

Salary Range

£20,000 – £25,000

Please describe the work that you do. 

I work with new and existing volunteers who take part in (or are considering taking part in) British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) surveys and schemes. We offer training for specific surveys both online and face-to-face. We want to build people’s experience and skills such that they feel comfortable taking part in BTO surveys. This helps to increase participants’ enjoyment of birds and nature whilst gathering vital scientific data. I also work with our Regional Network and publish blogs and social media posts. 

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

I love working with like-minded souls. Sharing my passion for Scotland’s wildlife and birds is wonderful, and I like helping folk build their skills, experience, and confidence and help them progress with their bird ID. If they go on to take part in a survey then all the better, but it’s not the be-all and end-all. BTO is a science-led organisation so we work with colleagues doing some amazing research, trying to tell that story to a wider audience and helping them get volunteer input where possible.

What inspired you into this career? 

I’ve never not been interested in wildlife and conservation, and I’ve been very lucky I’ve been able to carve out a career in the sector. I’m inspired by the wildlife around us, and want to share that with others. We live in challenging times and our wildlife needs all the help it can get, so I just want to do my bit. 

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

Yes. Many jobs are short-term and poorly funded and resourced. I’ve had too many jobs on (or close to) minimum wage and I’ve never earned the average salary, and I doubt I ever will. There’s too little investment in the sector (from government) and far too high a reliance on people working- or even volunteering- for poor pay and conditions as they are doing what they love. I do now have a permanent job, but that took an extremely long time to find. 

What education/training did you have? 

BSc (Hons) in Plant Science. University of Edinburgh, 1994-1998 

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

My main advice is to get to know your strengths and weaknesses early, and find a species group you’re especially keen on whether it’s raptors or liverworts. Volunteer from as early as possible too. Develop field skills and first-hand knowledge of the wildlife around you. If you want to work in the UK then build up your knowledge here. Don’t spend time and money on Orangutan rehabilitation or similar, it will be of limited use. Stick at it, you’ll get there. 

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