With government policy evolving and the green movement growing stronger, more and more of us are looking to launch or develop careers in conservation. Since 2008 SWT has provided traineeships to 54 people, with two more starting this autumn. Around 90% of them have successfully moved into paid employment in the sector. Two recent trainees explain how the experience they gained helped them on their way.
Where are they now?
Ranger, National Trust
After studying ecology with conservation at Bournemouth, Ellie joined the SWT team in 2016.
“The one-year traineeship was an ideal complement to my degree. It gave me broad practical experience and I did courses on chainsaw skills, species identification and more. But maybe the most valuable part was learning to work both independently and as part of a team. I became practised at leading volunteer groups and working on site without supervision. I was kind of thrown in at the deep end, but everyone was really supportive.
“To get started in conservation you need to stand out, so volunteering was a great move. Towards the end of my year, I applied for and got my current job in the Cotswolds. I help manage several sites and have sole responsibility for Crickley Hill SSSI.
“My experience of conservation grazing at SWT has been particularly useful, as belted Galloways are an important part of the team here. It’s fair to say that my traineeship gave me the grounding for my future career.”
Estates worker, Wiltshire Wildlife Trust
Rosie gained a degree in zoology from Swansea and a masters in wildlife management and conservation from Reading before joining SWT in 2017.
“After university I applied for 39 jobs and had 20 replies, each one a firm ‘no’. I turned to an education internship at Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, but realised that I wanted more practical experience, which led me to SWT.
“It supplemented what I had learned at university. I put my boots on, improved my practical skills, led volunteer groups and learned to recognise the wildlife on ‘my’ reserves. I realised that the more different habitats you experience, the more knowledge you gain.
“When I left, I became assistant ranger on Exmoor National Park, as paid maternity leave cover, before getting my current job. Now I work on 14 sites across north Wiltshire, managing volunteers, maintaining infrastructure and doing lots of chainsaw and coppicing work in winter.
“It’s a beautiful place and I’m absolutely loving it – and looking forward to a career in conservation.”