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NHSN are proud to bring you our 'Student Naturalist Awards Scheme'

28th September 2018

NHSN is proud to ‘officially’ launch our new Student Naturalist Awards Scheme: designed to provide early-career conservationists from local universities with the skills and demonstratable experience needed to forge a career in the environmental field.

Our Student Naturalist ‘awards scheme’ aims to support the next generation of naturalists through the development of key skills and provision of practical experience in multiple aspects of conservation, including field experience, research, wardening and communications. The brain-child of local graduates, Jodie Withall and Craig Gilpin, it aims to provide students with opportunities for personal and professional development while simultaneously building the confidence through mentoring and networking opportunities. All of which is made possible by the unique range of opportunities provided by NHSN and our supporters.

NHSN boasts a rich history built on environmental education, study, conservation and cooperation with local academic institutions. We believe that in our age of pressing environmental concerns, involvement in the environmental field has never been more important, and understand that this, coupled with increasing interest in conservation, has made the sector incredibly competitive. This means that now, more than ever, aspiring conservationists must set themselves apart from the pack. This is exactly what we hope to achieve through the current scheme: providing students from local institutions with the skills necessary to advance in their chosen field. In doing so, ensuring that North East Nature is held in safe hands over the years to come.

In it’s simplest form, our new scheme is a tiered system which allows students to accumulate points based on the successful completion of relevant activities – each likely to be of benefit to future career prospects. Participants may, in turn, earn the rank of Academic Associate, Academic Supporter and Academic Ambassador, with each awarded based on a demonstratable commitment to North East nature and natural history. Entrants will receive a formal certificate and official recognition by the Natural History Society for the achievement of each tier. More information about the scheme can be found here.


Jodie Withall, a recent graduate and one of the brains behind the new scheme, said:

Craig and Jodie

“Students face many problems when it comes to gaining a toe-hold in conservation. It can be difficult to gain experience absent commitment to long-term voluntary placements and harder still to set yourself apart from the huge number of people applying for environmental jobs. Schemes such as this, which allow students the flexibility to committ to volunteering around their existing schedule, are perfect at developing both core and transferable skills. The freedom to tailor activities depending on your own individual interests will surely make volunteering as part of the scheme enjoyable, as well as actively beneficial. I hope students from local universities choose to take part!”

Craig Gilpin, another graduate student and NHSN supporter adds:

“Boasting a fantastic nature reserve, an extensive archive and library and running an incredible variety of talks, field trips and courses, NHSN is uniquely positioned to provide students with the skills they need to make a real go of things. Gosforth Park Nature Reserves provides the ideal local to conduct research as part of a dissertation project and it will be great to see early career scientists on the ground conducting making real discoveries. Equally, the publication of research in Northumbrian Naturalist provides students with an unrivalled opportunity to make a name for themselves in North East England; while providing first hand experience of the publishing process.