What do you do?
I work to develop and deliver education programmes, opportunities and resources for students and teachers internationally and in the UK, to help them engage with, explore and discuss local and global sustainability challenges through different media- online debates, podcasts, writing and video competitions, online and physical education summits and though events and activities at our visitor centre.
What sort of training do you need to do your job?
I did a BSc in Zoology and a MSc in Ecology Evolution and Conservation and had always had a particular interest in exotic species, particularly those in tropical rainforests. Rainforests are our most biological diverse ecosystems and unfortunately one of the most threatened by unsustainable practices, both locally and globally, so my interest in sustainability stemmed from wanting to know more about those pressures.
Sustainability is a constantly changing and updating field, so I try to keep myself as up to date as possible on the latest sustainability issues and solutions by reading reports by groups like the IUCN, UNEP, UNESCO, IPCC etc. I don’t have any formal teaching qualifications, but I did have quite a lot of voluntary experience working with students and young people before starting in education 10 years ago, so the teaching side of my role has been developed with experience. I have done training with Compass Education, an NGO working to connect educators with systems thinking in relation to sustainability, which gives some really great education tools to help students explore, investigate and analyse challenging sustainability topics. I also took part in the ASDC’s Emerging Leaders Programme in 2021 which focused on developing skills and attributes for inclusive leadership for the future of Science Centres as valuable and open community assets, which was really useful and a lot of fun.
What are the key skills required to do your job?
In an education role strong communication skills are extremely important. Our visitor centre welcomes people from age 3 to 80+ on formal education visits or as a fun day out and our online international sustainability education programme works with students and teachers in 80 countries. Being able to adapt your communication style to suit your audience and engage them in sometimes quite complex topics so they are understandable and relatable to the individual is a key skill.
Organisation – I organise a series of online education events for students such as our International Student Debates which often has 100 + participants from 30+ countries as well as guest speakers and judges. There is months of preparation and planning that go into each event and I am usually organising several events and projects at the same time, so being able to plan and organise my own time and that of everyone participating to make sure the event is successful is vital.
Being positive – I think a lot of the mainstream news people hear about sustainability is negative, so being able to discuss sustainability action in a positive manner is really important. Children particular are very concerned about the state of the planet, but are unsure what they can do, so promoting to them that it’s not too late, no action is too small, you don’t need to be sustainable in everything but try where you can, you aren’t too young to have an impact or too old to change habits etc, so that they feel empowered to do what they can, rather than overwhelmed at not being able to do everything or feeling like there’s no point in trying.
Flexibility – No matter how much you plan and organise, when working with students, animals, the public and technology things are bound to go wrong! So being flexible and adaptable to changing situations, preferably with a sense of humour, is a bonus!
Do you offer work experience, or have volunteers to help anyone interested in working in this field find out what it’s like to work in a science and discovery centre?
We have work experience placements, voluntary roles and internships available across several departments, including working with our plant or animal teams, education team right through to marketing and communications. As a small team our interns and volunteers are able to gain hands on experience in roles which are really meaningful to supporting our centre and education work.
To find out more about our work or volunteering opportunities visit our websites Home – Trust for Sustainable Living and Visit the Living Rainforest