Mariko Whyte 2016-2017
Joining the Alderney Wildlife Trust was a fantastic opportunity for me. I came to Alderney in September 2016 immediately following a MSc in Biodiversity & Conservation. For me, the Masters was a change of direction, so I didn’t have much in the way of practical experience excepting 5 months of volunteering with the RSPB at home in Dorset.
The role with AWT was exactly what I needed as it offered an opportunity to get stuck in and develop my skills in all aspects of the Trust’s work. As Conservation Officer I had overall responsibility for the terrestrial reserves and sites including planning and undertaking practical tasks, managing and supporting the brilliant and experienced team of conservation volunteers and producing management plans and actions plans for the sites.
As the smallest of the Wildlife Trusts, you get a lot of responsibility from the start, which you wouldn’t necessarily get in a larger organisation. The experience I gained in the production of the new 5-year management plan for the Longis Reserve and the associated public consultation was really valuable. I also gained a lot of practical skills in terms of carrying out habitat and site management, driving the tractor and using machinery and tools, managing livestock and managing and working with volunteers.
One of the best things about the AWT experience is also the chance to get involved in public events, engagement and other activities. Really, there is the opportunity to develop your knowledge and your role in almost any aspect you want, as long as you’re getting the job done!
It was through the AWT that I first became interested in bats, through a visit to Jersey for the Channel Islands Bat Conference. This, and my interest in invertebrates are probably the two main influences that I have taken on to my next roles. Since returning to the UK, I have worked on developing my knowledge in these areas in particular, and have returned to Alderney since to continue to record bats and invertebrates. I think it’s hugely important to be able to continue to develop on the knowledge of these under-recorded groups on Alderney.
I now work in ecological consultancy, and bat surveys and assessments are a major part of the work we do. We provide ecological assessments and protected species surveys for planning and development. I am hoping that in time I will also be able to specialise in entomological surveys, but it takes a lot of work to be able to cover the main groups of invertebrates at a professional level!
Quite apart from the experience working with the Trust, I loved everything about Alderney, from the landscape and the wildlife, the history and places to explore to the people and the fantastic sense of community. I made lifelong friends during my time on the island and hope to continue returning for many years to come.
Thomas Marceau 2020
Fresh off graduating from an integrated Master’s degree, I joined the AWT in 2020 as Conservation Officer, seeking to develop my practical skills. Working for the AWT allowed me to take on a great deal of responsibility and acquire many new skills, such as driving a tractor. The amount of trust that the AWT places in its staff is far beyond what is usually expected at this level, meaning that you get to explore many different elements of the conservation world. The work I undertook as Conservation Officer was varied, ranging from tackling invasive species to managing the Alderney Grazing Animal Project. Another positive side to working for the AWT is that there is scope to focus on areas which particularly interest you and it is fair to say that every Conservation Officer has approached the role in their own way.
Having joined the AWT in 2020, and lived through the pandemic including the first lockdown, I experienced working for the AWT in what can only be described as a time of global crisis. Nevertheless, the AWT was able to weather the storm and continue with its work. This meant that I was lucky enough to enjoy a full year of practical conservation work, ecological surveying and a healthy social life in a year that was, for most people, one to forget. Due to these constraints, the teamwork and interconnectivity between departments at the AWT was on display more than ever. All team members were able to assist with events, media appearances, ecological surveying and practical tasks.
I hope that the skills I acquired as Conservation Officer will help me secure a new position shortly. Spending a year in Alderney has definitely made me more confident in approaching new roles, and I know that, whatever my next job may be, I will be able to make use of my Alderney experience.
Joshua Copping 2017
I first came to Alderney in 2016 to work with the Alderney Wildlife Trust on a 2-month research placement during my MSc. I was instantly blow away by the island’s crystal-clear seas, coastal wildflower displays, and wildlife; it’s really like nowhere else. Although my time with the Trust was only brief, I gained a lot of experience. This was not only through my own research, but also helping the AWT staff with some of their work commitments and public events. I really enjoyed my time on Alderney and knew I wanted to return at some point.
So, in 2017 after I’d graduated, I came back to work for the AWT as the Ramsar Officer. I greatly enjoyed this role as my tasks and responsibilities varied day to day. Some weeks I’d be out of the office, monitoring the island’s seabird population, carrying out marine surveys, leading kayaking tours or helping in public events. Other times I’d be analysing data, writing reports or working on articles about Alderney’s seabirds and marine environment. I was free to help other staff members and get involved in other exciting surveys, as long as I got my tasks done. The varied nature of this role kept the job interesting and I gained a range of transferable skills and knowledge.
I’m now towards the end of a PhD and believe my time with the AWT helped prepare me for this. A big part of me misses the fun nature of the job and the ability to spend so much time outside working in such a special place. I loved my time on Alderney, exploring the island and making lifelong friends, and really look forward to each time I return.
Filip Wieckowski 2016
I came to Alderney as Ramsar officer in 2016 because I needed more experience with seabirds. I was lucky that 2016 was the last year in a management cycle which meant a new five-year management strategy needed to be written. This gave me the opportunity to have full oversight of the marine program for Alderney Wildlife Trust and involve the community in the design of the site strategy.
Aside from gaining experience in the amazing monitoring fieldwork and eco-tourism the Trust leads, I was able to be involved in some media outreach, community and schools events, and developed my managerial and administration skills through delivery of the site strategy.
Since leaving Alderney I have worked in Brussels, Turkey, and Malta, and completed an MSc in Conservation. I now work as Conservation Manager for Blue Ventures in Timor-Leste, supporting small coastal communities to manage their fisheries more sustainably, protect marine biodiversity and secure their livelihoods for the future. Developing the strategy for the Ramsar site in Alderney set me up for leadership roles in the marine conservation sector and gave me some of the happiest experiences with some of the most interesting people. The seabirds, the beaches and the pizza are amazing!
Claire Thorpe 2016-2017
I joined the AWT in 2016 for one of the Outreach volunteer placement. I had recently finished my masters in Conservation and after briefly working a paid job for a health charity I moved to Alderney to pursue a career in conservation. While moving over was a big decision, working for the AWT taught me so much and helped me realise the work streams I was most interested in. I was lucky enough to be given a bursary after my first year, meaning I stayed in a paid role until 2020 when the bursary ended.
During this time I was able to do work on things as varied as editing and compiling the Alderney Wildlife magazine, leading school visits, writing funding applications and providing updates on the local radio. The outreach role is hugely varied and has the flexibility to allow the volunteer to really develop their skills. I was also able to maintain a butterfly and bumblebee transect, getting some time out of the office and gaining more specific species ID.
I now work in communications, without the start that the AWT gave me in design work and science communication I am sure it would have been a lot harder to get the roles I was interested in.
Alderney is one of the friendliest places I have ever been. Everyone is so welcoming and will go out of their way to help you find work, get involved with activities etc. Seeing the island through the seasons was also a real joy, watching the species change and helping engage others with this island's wildlife.