Unfulfilled and dissatisfied in my London office job, it became increasingly clear to me that I needed a change of direction. At the same time I was missing the connection to nature I had enjoyed in my childhood. Identifying this lack was what first inspired me to consider a career in environmental conservation: could I find fulfilling work which could help me reconnect to the natural world at the same time? With this question in mind, I set off for my local nature reserve at Sydenham Hill Wood to volunteer for the London Wildlife Trust.
Working with people who shared my passion for nature and wildlife, and surrounded by the inspiration for this passion, my initial experiences at Sydenham Hill Wood exceeded all expectations. What struck me most was the enormous sense of personal wellbeing I derived from being and working outdoors – in direct contrast to the restlessness I was feeling at work.
Seeking new opportunities to learn and develop, I was lucky enough to be chosen to participate in a two week conservation training programme hosted by the Barn Owl Foundation in Hungary. Sensational wildlife, amazing habitats and fantastic company combined to create an unforgettable experience, not to mention the privilege of working with experts in their fields.
Enthused by these experiences, I left my office job behind in June, and am currently volunteering full time with the National Trust on Exmoor. I’m learning something new every day, and have already benefitted from certificated training in use of chainsaws, tractors and pesticides. More importantly though, I feel connected to nature again – surrounded by stunning scenery and inspirational wildlife, from red deer to high brown fritillary butterflies. Working to protect this landscape and wildlife is physically demanding, spiritually stimulating and enormously fulfilling: my career in environmental conservation has begun in earnest!
Tom – Volunteer Ranger