Most people visiting this website will care about wildlife. You may volunteer at a local nature reserve, or you may garden with wild birds, butterflies or hedgehogs in mind, or you make careful choices when you buy food each week. Some of you may want to go a step further and find a job that you feel is making a positive contribution to looking after wildlife or the planet. Young people, in particular, often see the issues and the solutions more clearly and with more passion than older generations tend to and would love to work with wildlife, but don’t know where to start. What different jobs are out there and, young or not so young, how do you get yourself on the right path? This is the start of a series of articles from people who live locally and work in nature conservation describing briefly what they do and how they got into their career.
For myself, I now work in national policy and advice for woodlands and forestry, having had over 30 years of a varied career which began as a Countryside Ranger, doing practical conservation work, environmental education and enforcement (lots of fires and stolen motorbikes!). Nowadays my work involves driving a laptop, rather than a Landrover, but it still feels rewarding. I didn’t follow a typical educational route, studying French and joining the University conservation volunteers just as a way to get out of the city and see some green fields. But it introduced me to nature conservation and I realised that’s what I wanted to do, so I spent nearly a year working full-time as a volunteer back in the days when you could claim benefits while volunteering. Times have changed, and full-time volunteering is unaffordable for most people, but any volunteering shows that you are keen and committed. Relevant qualifications are important and I chose to study for a Diploma in Surveying (Rural Estate Management) alongside my job as a Ranger. This included modules on forestry, agriculture and land law – as well as lots of work-based training. I’ve often wished I’d studied a more relevant degree, and done a Masters or PhD, but I’ve been able to get interesting and enjoyable jobs based on my experience.
My top tips if you’re interested in working with wildlife:
Volunteer There are always loads of opportunities to get involved and it really helps you work out what you enjoy, and what you don’t!
Learn Follow your interests. Expertise does not always have to come with a hefty student loan.
Talk People working in the wildlife sector are always passionate about what they do so don’t be afraid to contact them to ask advice.
You’ll always find plenty of wildlife and biodiversity information on this website. Sign up to the regular newsletter to receive information about local events and volunteering opportunities.
This is the first in a series of Careers in Conservation articles featuring local people working in environmental roles.
Thanks to Pascal Bisson for the photos. Pascal works at The Donkey Sanctuary where there are often volunteering opportunities.