I feel very lucky to be able to call my passion my job

Kate Cartmel DoneKate Cartmel Done

Kate Cartmell Done, Apprentice Conservation Officer

Growing up in the Yorkshire Dales surrounded by the natural world I couldn’t help but take an interest in nature, but I wasn’t aware that it could be a career until I saw this apprenticeship advertised, and so during school I never really pursued it. I enjoyed the ecology aspects of my biology A Level but other than that I found my time in sixth form very unenjoyable, and knew that continuing straight on to university would have been a mistake.

I was looking for an opportunity to gain some practical work experience and continue my learning in a completely different environment to academic study, but I wasn’t sure in what area. I first heard about this apprenticeship during the second year of sixth form and it sounded so perfect for me that I was keen to leave and begin straight away, but in the end I completed my A Levels and began in October 2014.

Working at Cumbria Wildlife Trust has allowed me to learn so much about all the various aspects of wildlife conservation, and it has been really exciting to find a subject area I am passionate about and so keen to pursue as a career. My experience at school was very disheartening as I couldn’t seem to find anything I was truly interested in and so studying was very dull, and as it felt like there wasn’t much option afterwards other than university so I had nothing to work towards.

I now feel very lucky to be able to call my passion my job and I hope I always enjoy coming to work as much as I do at the moment, it’s very refreshing to know exactly what I am aiming for and how I’m going to get there. I have tried to make the most of this opportunity by experiencing as many different aspects of Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s work as I can and learning from other more knowledgeable members of staff, and I have also been on over 20 different training courses in the first year alone, learning skills from using a chainsaw to assessing the condition of upland wetlands.

I am so glad I decided against university straight away as I now have a renewed passion for learning and have picked up so many practical skills that cannot be acquired through academic study alone. I feel that often people assume apprenticeships are for less academically-able people and are purely vocational, but this is not always the case and many are equally suitable for people who are academic but don’t want to follow the traditional route.

I work on some projects which require a good understanding of some fairly complex ecosystems and always feel challenged in my work, which is something I feel is important to remain motivated end enthusiastic. I think it is fantastic that people of all abilities will be able to access opportunities like mine once our centre at Gosling Sike Farm is opened and I hope you will help to make our dream a reality.

I will finish my apprenticeship next October and am planning to go to university to study ecology. When I first left school I was adamant I would never return to studying, but I find this subject area so interesting and enjoyable that I am now really excited about doing so. Having two years practical work experience in this field also means that I understand what I am learning about and how I will be able to put it into practice in the workplace, which should be a great motivator. It should also prove invaluable when it comes to looking for a job after university as I will have a significant advantage over other graduates in what is a highly competitive sector. I hope to have a successful career in wildlife conservation, and one day maybe even return to Cumbria Wildlife Trust!