22 October 2012

What YOU Can Do for Wildlife: Part 10

We are nearing the end of our countdown of 12 ideas of things you can do to help wildlife and habitats.  This month we are looking at how your career and work choices can support amphibians and reptiles.

Idea Number 9. Conservation Careers

A beautiful Slow-worm
A life dedicated to wildlife – for many people, this is the dream, and the worry is that it’s only a few lucky ones who also make it their reality.  Like many sectors, this can be a tough area to get into (particularly at the moment) with a lot of competition for jobs involving surveying, habitat creation and management and environmental education.  There have been redundancies and cuts, but there are also always new projects and posts advertised so opportunities do come up.

Adding a conservation touch to your career

Conservationists don’t just work in conservation.  Not everyone wants, or is able, to spend their time digging ponds and there are different ways that we can help animals and habitats in our daily lives using a range of different skills.

Here are some ideas for building in some helpful actions for wildlife in different careers:
  • Horticulture and gardening, land and park management and farming:  practical wildlife friendly actions including agri environment schemes and wildlife gardening
  • Teaching and youth work: encouraging young people to get outside and learn about nature, creating an outdoor classroom, field trips and getting involved in local green spaces
  • Arts and crafts, photography, music and film making, website and print design:  using communication skills to share your passion for wildlife and wild places, making others aware of the threats and problems and what they can do to help
  • Veterinary practice and animal care:  getting involved with wildlife rescue and sanctuary centres
  • Cleaning: using eco friendly products and promoting the wildlife cause through your website or leaflet
  • Admin, finances and fundraising: working or volunteering for wildlife and nature focussed organisations to help with efficient management and bringing in extra income
  • Architecture, engineering and planning: designing green buildings and infrastructure, helping wildlife through new road crossing designs and accommodating them in planned developments
  • ICT, technology and data processing: helping with surveys and data crunching to find out how animals are getting on, monitoring conservation projects and highlighting areas of need
  • Events: Organising fundraising activities, perhaps a dinner party through Dinner4Good or doing a fun run and getting sponsorship via virginmoneygiving.  Conservation/Wildlife charities are always under-represented at charity fundraising events such as marathons.  Not only will you be raising valuable funds for your favourite charity but you will also be raising their profile.
  • Any job role: Contribute to a conservation charity through payroll giving as you earn and/or leave a legacy, this could even be a living legacy.  You could also help distribute charity information such as advice booklets, newsletters, email updates and petitions.
And here are our top tips for getting jobs and volunteer roles in conservation:
  • Environmentjob.co.uk and Countryside Jobs Service are good places to look for both paid employment and volunteering opportunities, as well as training and events
  • This sounds obvious, but read the application information, job or role description and person specification really carefully before you apply!  Take care to then demonstrate how you meet the requirements.  Check your application for typos and make sure you get it in on time - even really well qualified people can make a basic mistake and miss out.
  • Academic background, work experience and volunteer experience will be taken into consideration, as well as how any other work experience brings transferable skills - for example, bar work can give you good team skills and temping can demonstrate that you’re a quick learner!
  • Adding a link to a blog, Twitter account, online photo gallery or project can help show what other skills you have and make you stand out in the crowd.
  • Be proactive – if there is a particular specialism or organisation you want to get into, read everything you can find, volunteer, set up a blog, go to conferences and events, network, get training and/or a qualification and think of other ideas to keep pushing your way into that area!
So, if your dream of being dedicated to helping wildlife seems far away and unachievable, the message from Froglife is that it could be easier than you think.  The sector, the animals and habitats need people with a wide range of skills and interests to help.  What could you do right now to help animals and habitats, and change the focus of your life?