I grew up in the small town of Fleetwood, with aspirations of being a vet/ animal carer. After realising my complete phobia of needles at around 13 – I looked for other ways I could work with animals. I worked hard on my biology and ecology and got a place at Salford University, where I achieved a BSc and an Msc in Wildlife Conservation. I was the first person in my family to get a degree. Alongside university, I quickly realised employers were not so interested in the degree without any experience, so I volunteered in several areas during this time, alongside other work, including a placement at Blackpool Zoo, Costa Rica, City of Trees, RSPCA, Salford Rangers, and an event with Dogs Trust.
Our trainees: Jane's story
Why did you apply?
I built up my skillset with volunteer roles in the hopes of becoming a ranger or project officer for an environmental charity but was declined for roles several times due to my lack of paid full-time experience – many roles want 2 years of experience or more. The practical conservation traineeship at the Environmental Resource Centre in Bolton came up, it was the perfect fit and it has been one of the best opportunities I have been given in my life.
What have you enjoyed?
I can honestly say, it was the best 8 months of my working life to date. I met like-minded people, who were so knowledgeable about the natural world, I learned more than I had done in all my volunteering put together because I was given responsibility. My needs for development were listened to and I was in charge of my own learning and given excellent training opportunities including first aid training, pesticide license, and handheld tools licenses. I came away from the role, with the experience to apply for a project officer role, and I made lifelong friends.
What lessons have you learned?
I think connecting with people is always something I have been good at, but I have never had the opportunity to lead a team before. I think leading a team has its differences from being a volunteer and requires much more responsibility. I gained confidence in my own abilities, and I was able to instill confidence in others. As someone who has always had problems with self-esteem and confidence – this was the biggest lesson I learned. As I had always been a volunteer, stepping back and analysing situations for the bigger picture was a real learning curve also!
What are your hopes for the future?
With thanks to my team at Bolton, I am now a Community Engagement Project Officer for the Bay project in Wyre. I finally achieved my project officer role! What an incredible feeling. My hopes for the future are that the sky is the limit. My role is a 2- year contract and in that time the Morecambe Bay Eden Project is being built. I want to stay with Lancashire Wildlife Trust and carry on making a difference for people and nature in my home town and if I get lucky enough to carry on working with/alongside the Eden Project in the future that would be incredible.
Thank you to the whole team at the Environmental Resource Centre, Bolton. A special mention to Lara Sansun & Stephen Cartwright for their guidance and support.