Isaac Lester, Ian Johnson from Lincs Windfarm and Robert Smith

Investing in the future – NWT’s apprenticeship programme

Thursday 14 September, 2017

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.”

Rob Smith

“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.”


Isaac Lester

“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!”

Current job vacancies and current volunteer opportunities are always listed on our website

Share this

Top news stories

2019-05-16 Cley Family Days to begin on c Cley Family Days to begin on county celebration day
Thursday 16 May, 2019
Norfolk Wildlife Trust will mark Norfolk Day – the annual celebration of all that makes our county great &ndash...
2019-05-14 Balance of safety and nature i Balance of safety and nature is driving verge cutting plans
Tuesday 14 May, 2019
Norfolk Wildlife Trust works in partnership with Norfolk County Council to maintain and project our 112 Roadside Natu...
2019-05-09 £500k to tip the balance of th £500k to tip the balance of the Broads
Thursday 09 May, 2019
Two of the largest Broads in Norfolk will have their underwater ecology ‘manipulated’ to restore their cl...
2019-05-01 Cley Calls to art and nature l Cley Calls to art and nature lovers this summer
Wednesday 01 May, 2019
A long summer weekend of wildlife and creativity inspired by the unique North Norfolk landscape is coming to Cley, Th...
2019-04-30 Funding will protect priority Funding will protect priority birds at Holme
Tuesday 30 April, 2019
Ringed plovers, little terns and oystercatchers are three of the important species to be better protected at NWT&rsqu...
2019-04-18 Pensthorpe Bird and Wildlife F Pensthorpe Bird and Wildlife Fair speaker schedule announced
Thursday 18 April, 2019
Pensthorpe Natural Park has added one of Britain’s best-known birders, Bill Oddie OBE, to its programme of gues...
2019-04-15 30 Days Wild to connect people 30 Days Wild to connect people with nature
Monday 15 April, 2019
Launched today, The Wildlife Trusts’ annual nature challenge 30 Days Wild encourages people to do something wil...
2019-04-05 New look team at Trust's Ecolo New look team at Trust's Ecological Consultancy
Friday 05 April, 2019
Norfolk Wildlife Services welcomes a fresh but familiar face as a new look team is ready to help with ecological expe...
2019-03-28 Badger, Ratty, Mole and Toad s Badger, Ratty, Mole and Toad strike out for a wilder future
Thursday 28 March, 2019
Sir David Attenborough, Stephen Fry, Catherine Tate, Alison Steadman and Asim Chaudhry have backed a new campaign fro...
2019-03-22 Festival Debate will consider Festival Debate will consider the future of nature in Norfolk
Friday 22 March, 2019
A timely and important debate on the future of nature will be the centrepiece of this year’s Festival of Nature...
2019-03-12 Big or small, ponds for all! Big or small, ponds for all!
Tuesday 12 March, 2019
Gardeners across the UK urged to make a splash for wildlife   For this year’s Wild About Gardens challen...
2019-03-07 Southrepps Commons local natur Southrepps Commons local nature reserve is important new addition to Trust’s portfolio
Thursday 07 March, 2019
Norfolk Wildlife Trust is delighted to receive Southrepps Commons from the Parish Council; a local nature reserve mad...