International Women’s Day – Learn about what it takes to be a woman in the Rivers Trust movement
We’ve spoken to a selection of inspiring women in the Rivers Trust movement for International Women’s Day 2019.
Here’s what they had to say about their roles in the movement, the challenges they face and some advice for women looking for similar jobs in the environmental sector.
Please take a look at our jobs board for the latest jobs in the Rivers Trust movement.
Name: Dr Samantha Hughes
Role: Project Development Manager
Which Rivers Trust do you work for? South East Rivers Trust (SERT for short!)
Describe a typical day in the Rivers Trust movement: I’m responsible for developing diverse river catchment restoration projects with the team, through partnerships with stakeholders, landowners, experts and academic institutions. This means working in a very different range of project types and drawing on different skills in our team.
What do you love about your job: SERT has a really great dynamic team. I really enjoy having the opportunity to do something “hands-on” by working with different people with amazing skill sets to develop different solutions to improve river and catchment health.
My work covers everything from improving in-channel habitat diversity and evaluating road runoff mitigation measures, to addressing the effect of land use change in the catchment. I am very curious and love applying myself to new and different challenges that help keep the Trust moving forward. It has been really great to get to collaborate with people with a “can do” attitude.
Have you done anything particularly challenging or had to overcome any particular challenges in your role whilst working for your Rivers Trust? After living abroad for so long, it has been a challenge to adapt to how things work in the UK. Projects development and execution tend to move faster in the UK compared to where I was and there are more diverse sources of funding to tap into but there are many regulations and consents (and endless lists of acronyms!) that must be taken into consideration.
Any tips for women looking to work in the environment sector? Just be you! Lead by example. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes or ask for help to tackle a problem – no one is infallible. Don’t accept lazy preconceptions about women and physical, outside work. Fortunately, this kind of attitude is a lot less common nowadays but still springs up from time to time. Anyone working in the environment sector will tell you that days spent in the field, preferably next to a freely flowing river, are priceless. Also, the joy of “getting the message across”, actually seeing people you talk to really understand how precious and joyous the natural environment is – is a great feeling!
Name: Ellie Brown
Role: GIS Data and Evidence Officer
Which Rivers Trust do you work for? Ribble Rivers Trust
Describe a typical day in the Rivers Trust movement: Working for a Rivers Trust, your days can be really varied! As they’re generally relatively small charities, everyone has to chip in and help with things that are outside of their job description. For example, this is how I describe my GIS role in the ‘Trust Team’ section on Ribble Rivers Trust’s website:
“Catchment-scale analyses to aid the Trust’s strategic planning of projects, to target locations where they will have the greatest benefit; collating and mapping evidence to support funding bids; creating interactive maps for the Trust’s website to educate and inform the public; managing the Trust’s GIS datasets; and helping other members of the team with various mapping tasks are all in a week’s work for a GIS Officer”.
However, on any given day, alongside doing a mixture of the above, I might also be doing the paperwork needed to create a new woodland, running an educational session for a primary school (such as teaching them about what lives in rivers, or planting trees), leading a bat walk by a river, sharing information about the Trust’s activities, rivers and what people can do to protect them on social media, delivering presentations to farmers or community groups, engaging with the public at agricultural shows, etc.
What do you love about your job: Making a positive difference to wildlife and the environment, working with people who are passionate about conservation, and teaching others about the importance of healthy rivers and what they can do to help protect them.
Have you done anything particularly challenging or had to overcome any particular challenges in your role whilst working for your Rivers Trust: As GIS Data and Evidence Officer, one of my main roles is to collate geographical-based data from multiple sources and use them to create GIS/map-based analyses or models that predict where we should do certain types of work (e.g. create woodlands, remove barriers to fish migration) where they’re likely to have the greatest positive benefit for the rivers. Most of this work is novel and involves developing brand new GIS analyses or models, which can be really challenging (but very rewarding!). The results of the analyses/models have helped RRT with successful funding bids and helped get landowners on board with works the Trust is interested in doing on their land.
Any tips for women looking to work in the environment sector? Get as much experience as you can (whether it’s voluntary and/or through formal education), work hard and be prepared to try your hand at anything. Demonstrate that you’re passionate about conservation. Get to know people who work in the sector and make a good impression – you never know where it might lead.
Name: Lisa Stewart
Role: Project Officer- Source to Tap
Which Rivers Trust do you work for? The umbrella body itself, The Rivers Trust.
Describe a typical day in the Rivers Trust movement: A typical day? No two days are the same. You could find me in a river searching for freshwater invertebrates, you could find me in a school teaching kids about how their water is treated. You could find me hiding among the rushes on a farm talking about pesticide use. But one thing is typical- every day is a happy day at The Rivers Trust.
What do you love about your job? This 100% has to be the people I have met, my colleagues, the volunteers, the farmers, the kids in the schools, the ecologists, the scientists, the good people working towards the common goal of the RT.
Have you done anything particularly challenging or had to overcome any particular challenges in your role whilst working for your Rivers Trust? You will want to solve all of the environmental problems you come across but you can only do your best.
Any tips for women looking to work in the environment sector? Network- go to events and conferences, the most connected people are often the most successful, offer your time to volunteer for the organisation you would like to work for. Have confidence in yourself and put yourself out there.
Name: Jessica Mead
Role: Volunteer Officer
Which Rivers Trust do you work for? South East Rivers Trust (SERT)
Describe a typical day in the Rivers Trust movement: I came on board as a project officer for SERT in 2018, helping deliver community engagement activities and volunteer events across SERT’s geographical area. I also assist in the set-up delivery and analysis of the Trust’s citizen science projects. A typical day can be anything from working with communities to tackle invasive species on the ground to creating engaging online resources to show off the data our citizen scientists have worked hard to collect.
What do you love about your job? I love working with local people to help them care for and appreciate the amazing natural environment they have right on their doorstep; once people care about their local blue and green spaces, they can be a tremendous force for good. Seeing people’s passion and enthusiasm is infectious – it makes me want to work even harder, to improve our rivers for both people and wildlife.
Have you done anything particularly challenging or had to overcome any particular challenges in your role whilst working for your Rivers Trust? I joined SERT from a background in marine science and had to quickly learn the ropes when it comes to working with rivers and their catchments.
Any tips for women looking to work in the environment sector? Embrace the opportunities that come your way – it’s a competitive field, so make the most of every chance to learn and gain experience.
Name: Dr Lyndsey Herron
Role: I am a Project Officer in The Rivers Trust.
Describe a typical day in the Rivers Trust movement: I work on a cross-border project called Source to Tap based in Northern Ireland.
In my daily role, I am working with the schools, local community and farmers to educate everyone on how we can work together to protect our rivers and keep our drinking water clean.
What do you love about your job? I have always been interested in the environment from living in the countryside and the best part of my job is being outdoors doing river surveys like kick sampling. I also love being out meeting the public and sharing my knowledge of rivers with them and encouraging everyone to do their bit to help protect and enjoy our environment.
Have you done anything particularly challenging or had to overcome any particular challenges in your role whilst working for your Rivers Trust? Within my job, I meet with farmers and carry out a farm survey of their farm to determine if there are ways we can change their farming practice that will make the farm more sustainable whilst also helping to protect the rivers and the water quality. This can be challenging but also exciting as I know that by working with farmers we can make a real difference in protecting our rivers through some best practice and small changes on the farm.
Any tips for women looking to work in the environment sector? If you want to work in the environmental sector I would advise you to do some volunteering work to help you get into the area you are interested in or do a short environmental course in a specialist field to give you an extra edge over the competition.
Name: Harriet Alvis
Role: Project Manager
Which Rivers Trust do you work for? Bristol Avon Rivers Trust
Describe a typical day in the Rivers Trust movement: There is no typical day, which is why it is the best job! One day we could be doing a fisheries assessment, the next we’re out investigating pollution sources, taking a whole class of children out to the river or writing plans for catchment-wide improvements.
What do you love about your job? The fact that everything we do is helping to improve the environment in some way, be it big or small. There aren’t many jobs where you get the opportunity to do that, especially in a career where you have so much influence in delivering the changes you want to see.
Any tips for women looking to work in the environment sector? Find a specific sector that you are truly passionate about and get experience in it – it’s far too transparent with many people’s job applications that they have used the same letters and copied and pasted the job opportunity! Work experience doesn’t just help you get the job but also gives you so much more confidence when in a new position. From a women-specific perspective, don’t be put off if a sector is dominated by middle-aged men, there is always an opportunity to prove yourself if you are determined.
Do you want to work in the Rivers Trust movement – one of the fastest growing environmental movement in the UK? Take a look at our jobs board for the latest Rivers Trust jobs.