Ella Clark

Country: United Kingdom
Sector: Non-profit - Other
Job title: Outdoor Learning Officer
Subject of study: Conservation Science and Policy
Year of graduation: 2022
Type/Level of study: Postgraduate Taught

Current Employer/Organisation Name

Ernest Cook Trust

What have you been doing since leaving Exeter, and what are you doing now?

Since leaving Exeter, I spent a month in Australia and New Zealand visiting family and friends before coming back to England to try and find a house! Then I got stuck into volunteering (with CPRE and at WWT Slimbridge), and joined my local Environmental Action Group.

I am now lucky enough to have two conservation related jobs! One is as an Outdoor Learning Officer with The Ernest Cook Trust, an educational charity. Here, we lead school groups in educational activities in an outdoor setting, inspiring the next generation to have a connection with nature. Activities range from being curriculum based to more free-form forest school sessions. My second job is as an Exhibit Engager at WWT Slimbridge, conveying the amazing work of the WWT to the public in, hopefully, a fun and engaging way. I also run activities such as science shows and pond-dipping.

Why did you choose this career? And what do you enjoy most about your work?

I chose this career as, during my Master’s, I realised how vital science communication is in Conservation. You can be exceedingly clever, but unless you can convey your knowledge and, equally as importantly, enthusiasm, to other people, then the buck stops with you.

I most enjoy getting to work outside everyday and how rewarding it is to see children develop a connection to nature. Some children start a session being very unsure about being outside in nature, and usually finish feeling much more at peace with themselves. It is this that should inspire them to then look after our world. Seeing the natural world through a child’s eye is also very rewarding.

What did you enjoy most about your programme/the University and what was the biggest highlight?

The biggest highlight was our Kenya field course, which was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Aside from that, meeting incredible, likeminded people that I am lucky to call friends.

Why did you choose to study this course?

I had done BSc Zoology at the University of Bristol, and the Conservation units had always been my favourite. To me, it seems like the most worthwhile thing anyone could study in the current climate. I chose the Policy variation as this was an area of the field that I didn’t know much about, but I knew was very important and wanted to explore further.

What skills and experiences have been most useful for your career?

All the factual skills I learned have been incredibly useful, especially ID skills. Aside from that, I have found the experience of working with communities and people in the industry to be quite a sought after skill, this is something I got to experience as part of my research project.

What advice would you give to a current student who wishes to pursue your career?

As with all Conservation jobs, volunteering and persistence is key. I also found that for specific areas I knew I was interested in, such as working with schools doing environmental education, society’s can be amazing at filling gaps in your course.

What are your plans for the future?

As long as I work in this industry I think I will be happy! I know how extremely lucky I am to do a job that I genuinely enjoy. Whether in the future I stay in the public engagement side of conservation, or move to working on conservation projects, I know that I will try and inspire other people in any way I can.


Similar Alumni

Nadia Tomsa

Sea Trust Wales. I studied BSc Marine Biology with a year abroad. In my third year I went across to Tasmania, Australia, which was unfortunately cut a bit short because of the pandemic, but other than that was amazing. Whilst I was there, I was able to do some Antarctic studies and that is probably one of my highlights of my time at university.

Chloe Neal

Llamau. After I graduated in 2021, I started a master’s degree in Data Science at Durham University in October 2021 and finished in September 2022. During this degree, I did modules such as machine learning, natural language processing and programming.