Nearly three years ago, thanks to support from Lincs Wind Farm, Norfolk Wildlife Trust appointed two apprentices to undertake work-based training and gain qualifications at Easton Otley College in environmental conservation. We wanted to give two apprentices an opportunity to train as an estate worker, to gain practical knowledge and experience needed to develop a career in environmental conservation.
Rob Smith and Isaac Lester were appointed in September 2014. Rob is based at NWT Holme Dunes, joining the Broads, Coast & Wetlands team. His high level of wildlife identification skills and knowledge mean that Rob is a real asset to the team. Isaac experienced the variety of habitats offered by the North Norfolk Woods team and then moved to join the North Broads team at Hickling.
Over the three years they have gone from strength to strength through their hard work, dedication and commitment. They have developed practical skills to help NWT with the management of the nature reserves, conservation and education/visitor engagement and made a real difference.
Both apprentices have successfully completed and gained their qualifications. Robert has continued to progress to a foundation degree in Science Ecology & Conservation Management, and Isaac has gone on to work for a Level 3 Diploma in work-based environmental conservation, both held at Easton Otley College.
They have both also represented the Trust with visitors as their respective reserves and public events such as the Rutland Bird Fair in 2016. The project has been so successful that in the autumn we will be recruiting another apprentice to work with the South Broads team. This is thanks to funding from an entirely separate charitable trust impressed with what we have already achieved to help two young people develop as conservationists. The vacancy will be advertised on our website in the near future.
Ian Johnson, Lincs Wind Farm said: “we are delighted with the continued success of the NWT apprenticeships programme. It has been a real privilege to work with such a dedicated and enthusiastic group and its been pleasure for us to support Rob and Isaac and see them develop their confidence, skills and roles on the nature reserves. Lincs Wind Farm is delighted to invest in employment initiatives such as this to contribute to growing future knowledge and skills in the nature conservation sector and to strengthen our relationship with local communities.”
“For anyone wanting a career in conservation I would wholeheartedly recommend these apprenticeships – especially for the experience, knowledge and enjoyment I have gained from my time within the Trust. Along the way I have met some amazing naturalists and conservationists and witnessed wildlife spectacles I will never forget! Since my apprenticeship began there have been many highlights, from the day-to-day monitoring of some of my favourite birds such as the ringed plover and little tern during the breeding season to the work I carried out such as the scraping of the dunes slacks or helping to create breeding habitat for waders.
I was also fortunate enough to be with the Trust to celebrate NWT Holme Dunes' 50th and the Trust's 90th birthdays and represent the Norfolk Wildlife Trust at their first ever attendance at the British Birdwatching Fair! Looking forward, I hope to continue in this line of work and one day become the senior warden of Holme Dunes and maybe even one day become an area manager.”
“In 2012 while studying a course in business I realised I was looking for something different in life. I knew I enjoyed working outdoors and I had already volunteered in my local area helping to maintain Local Nature Reserves at Pigney’s Wood near North Walsham and Southrepps Common. It was during this period I saw an apprenticeship advertised at Norfolk Wildlife Trust and after reading the job description I knew it was exactly what I wanted to do; working outside with likeminded people gaining new, interesting and exciting skills such as chain sawing, boat operating and plant surveying. I feel my apprenticeship has given me the practical skills needed to move into full-time work as a nature conservationist. I would recommend an apprenticeship to anyone who’s looking to be able to work in an environment where they can learn about something they love, receive training and friendly advice and get paid to do it!”