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Head Ranger

Age: 30

Organisation: National Trust

Why did you decide on a career in ecology/environmental management, and when did you decide?

I have been set on a career in ecology since learning about the destruction of the rainforest in year 4 of primary school, possibly via Sting. I’d seen some amazing images of animals and plants I couldn’t even imagine existed, such as tree frogs and bromeliads. I remember feeling shocked at the apathy everyone seemed to show towards environmental destruction, even if I didn’t even understand what apathy meant.

How did you get started in the sector?  What qualifications and experience did you have? Have you gained any additional qualifications since?

I studied BSc Zoology and then MSc Wildlife Conservation & Management at university as well as volunteering from the age of 13 with animals and wildlife. I followed this up this formal practical qualifications and plenty of fieldwork experience/courses.

How long have you been in your current role?

 One year.

What does a typical day involve? What are your responsibilities?

I have to say the old clichéd ‘there is no typical day’, but there really isn’t. However…first I’d catch up with emails and chat to my apprentice / volunteers about what we are doing that day. This could involve anything from leading a group of volunteers in tasks such as fixing a fence, chopping invasive cherry laurel, wildlife surveying or leading a ‘public engagement activity’ such as mini-beasting. If I’m working alone I may be meeting a tenant to discuss conservation grazing, attending a meadow meeting or writing a woodland management plan. Key responsibilities are looking after eight properties in Ceredigion as well as a team of volunteers and six ponies.

What do you think are the most important skills for someone in your role to have? 

Flexibility; tenacity; friendliness; ability to juggle many skills/tasks simultaneously; confidence in your abilities; not being afraid of being wrong or not having enough ‘knowledge’.

Describe the aspects of your job you find particularly rewarding and those you find challenging?

Rewarding aspects are working with and for volunteers and visitors; seeing plans come to fruition, sometimes within a day; being outside with wildlife knowing you have made a difference. Challenging aspects include balancing paperwork and practical work and many different people’s interests.

Describe your career progression so far and any plans you have for the future

I have worked or volunteered for many different organisations including RSPB, TCV, Northumberland Wildlife Trust and National Trust in a variety of roles from outdoor education to surveys/research. Having worked in a professional capacity for charities all my life, I would certainly want to stay within the NGO sector.

What one piece of advice would you give to someone seeking a career in the sector?

Even if you haven’t got your dream role initially, getting your foot in the door in the organisation you want to work for in any role is a big step.