How to become a conservation trainee: Liberty's story

Meet Liberty, 21, from Essex, who is on a conservation placement with the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. Part of our Bitesize world of work series.

"We engage with lots of different community projects. It’s a hugely different experience to being at university and I’m so lucky to be doing it."

What is your job?

This is a year-long placement, doing a variety of conservation work, like path maintenance, dry-stone walling, fencing, and being involved with the Yorkshire Wildlife team. On Mondays we’re based in the office, which is on a farm, but we always get called out for farm work which is fun! We go out to different reserves around Yorkshire, doing different projects sometimes with the Yorkshire Wildlife Team or the National Trust. We get involved with marketing, comms and engagement too.

What skills do you need?

I hadn’t done much of this sort of thing before, so I’m always learning. The skills I’m learning are to put myself out there and develop my self-confidence - I try to engage in things that maybe I’m not so good at, at the moment. This is enhancing my practical skills and my communication skills.

What did you study?

I did English Literature, Music, Drama and Psychology for my A-levels. I wanted to do Biology as well, but people said I wasn’t a science person. I started Wildlife Conservation at university, but then I left after three months - it was too much maths and figures.

Is this the job you always wanted to do?

I had to choose between my passion for the environment and my ambition to be a singer. I felt that a music career wasn't enough, but I didn't think I could get a job in conservation because I'm not scientifically-minded. But being in this placement has made me see so many opportunities.

How did you get into your job?

I went to a festival where a woman spoke about a ‘Tomorrow's Natural Leaders’ project, and about active outdoor conservation, so I looked it up, and it was more suited to me than I thought it would be.

Liberty out in the fields with other conservation workers.

Top tips

  • If you have a passion and a drive, then you can achieve anything, especially on a placement like mine, because they welcome people from all walks of life. It is really empowering and accepting. You can go out with loads of skills to transfer to different things

  • If you focus on what excites you and stick to that, then other opportunities will arise.

What to expect if you want to be a countryside officer

There are a range of jobs available in the conservation and wildlife sector. When Liberty has finished her conservation placement, she may go on to be a conservation officer. A similar role is a countryside officer. Countryside officers manage, protect, and improve the rural environment.

  • Countryside officer salary: £18,000 to £50,000 per year
  • Countryside officer hours: 39 to 41 hours per week
  • Typical entry requirements: Some people become countryside officer through a university degree. Relevant subjects include Countryside or Environmental Management, Ecology and Geography or Biology. You’ll need one or two A-levels (or equivalent) for a foundation degree or higher national diploma and two or three A-levels (or equivalent) for a degree. Apprenticeships in environmental conservation usually require five GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), usually including English and Maths, for an advanced apprenticeship. Organisations like the Conservation Volunteers, the National Trust and The Wildlife Trusts offer training for volunteers.

This information is a guide (sources: LMI for All, National Careers Service)

For careers advice in all parts of the UK visit: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

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