Today’s workshop was the first of (hopefully) many to be led by Lucy McRobert, Communications Manager for the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts and a Wild Horizons mentor.

We began with a short presentation about how to get ahead of the competition when pursuing a career in conservation; here Lucy described the importance or irrelevance (to an extent) of factors such as experience, qualifications, and networking using her 10 top tips. We also discussed how to optimise your presence on social media to be as attractive as possible to potential employers. I personally found this to be one of the most informative presentations I have ever received, not only because of the quality of the content and delivery but also because we stopped half way through so that we could describe to Lucy our own career paths. This meant that she could give us advice that was personalised to our existing skill sets and future ambitions.

Next, we discussed how engage young people with nature. Overall, we decided that the best way of doing this is to use social media as the vast majority of young people (<30 year olds) already use it and there is no one who doesn’t like watching videos of otters sliding across some snow on their bellies! There is no denying that there is a lot of weight on the shoulders of the next generation of conservationists as the amount of pressure being exerted on the natural world is increasing by the day. Lucy emphasised the fact that in the UK the combined membership of all organisations that are focused on conservation is around 8 million, which is over 10% of the population; yet there is the potential to increase that to 35% which would be amazing as natures voice would become louder than ever. However, we also discussed the fact that conservation can never truly succeed if we are working in opposition to communities like farmers, gamekeepers, and land developers. Instead we must work with these communities and build a trusting relationship with them.

Finally, we had the opportunity to give something back to Lucy as she had brought along a sneak preview of the 2017 30 Days Wild calendar design and we gave her our opinions on it as well as ideas for what to include in the welcome back, things such as ID guides and trinkets. My personal idea for this was to create a set of trading cards with various types of wildlife on them, I kept thinking back to being 8 years old on the school playground where your social status depended entirely on your Yu-Gi-Oh collection!

I love workshops like this as I get the opportunity to spend time with people that I fully believe to be the cream of the crop when it comes to conservation, everyone is so knowledgeable and all have a heart of gold. I have learnt so much already in this group and we are just getting started!

Joe Bodycote (Wild Horizons member)

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