Love backpacking? Start your Vocation in Conservation Today
Do you love being outside and want the ‘trail magic’ to continue even after your trip finishes?
What if you could protect and improve the outdoor spaces that enliven your spirit?
Have you considered a vocation centered around habitat restoration, conservation, or biology?
What are my values? What community (human and non-human) am I most passionate about serving?
Do I want your office to be outside or mainly inside?
Do you want to craft a vocation that is rooted in your values and livelihood?
It’s easier than it sounds. I started my journey midway through my undergraduate degree, switching from the soul-sucking field of Marketing to Environmental Studies. Book by book, I began learning about the wide world of environmentalism.
With little to no biology experience, but a lot of outdoor backpacking skills, I landed my first Biological Technician job for Natureserve, a leader in global conservation. Camping and hiking skills were vital, as we camped for eight days off-grid while surveying post-wildfire burned areas within the big Sagebrush habitat for indicators of ecosystem health. The survival of the Sagegrouse, a protected species, directly depends on the health of the entire sagebrush ecosystem. After this field season, I am hooked on scientific field jobs that get me outside and allow me to improve a degraded landscape.
That was five years ago. Since then, I’ve worked for various organizations, including the US Forest Service, State Parks, National Park Service, environmental consulting companies, and environmental non-profits. Remember the learning never stops. Fall of 2023, I’m returning to school for a graduate degree in Ecology and couldn’t be more excited to see where this new chapter propels my livelihood next.
How to thrive in this field:
1.Field jobs can be physically and emotionally challenging, but highly rewarding
2. You get to see intimate parts of wild places that few people have experienced
3. Get ready to grow beyond your comfort zone
4. Learn to be open to taking twists and turns in your path
My path is not linear and has taken many twists and complete U-turns. Try out different jobs that spark your interest. For example, I’ve worked as a greenhouse propagator, geology research field assistant, landscape designer, gardener, field biologist, and habitat restoration technician.
5. Community-based training programs can be profoundly transformational
My experience in certification programs was more transformational than my undergraduate degree at a university. I can not recommend enough learning from your local community because you quickly will discover like-minded peers with similar values.
Trainings I’ve completed and can recommend include the , ,, , and the
Tips for starting your career in conservation:
Start reaching out to friends, family, and folks in this field to learn about their journey and experience
Read dream job descriptions and highlight the skills you need and the ones you want to build
At least in the beginning, don’t confine yourself to one specialization. Take a step back and appreciate the ecosystem from all levels, including soils, geology, microorganisms, plants, animals, and climates.
Be open to the new people, places, and opportunities that begin to enter your life
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