Happy International Women's Day!

This International Women’s Day 2021 we are profiling some of the wonderful women staff and volunteers across The Wildlife Trusts.

We want to celebrate womanhood, the diversity of women, women who love nature and most importantly the women who make our movement great! We acknowledge that not everyone has equal access to nature and women can face many barriers when it comes to accessing nature and careers in the conversation sector. We asked women across our movement about their experiences of womanhood, joys of nature and how can the sector can be more inclusive for all women. 

Emma, Outdoor Learning Officer, Essex Wildlife Trust

Emma Peters, Essex Wildlife Trust

My name is Emma, and I work for the Essex Wildlife Trust as an Outdoor Learning Officer. I identify as a bisexual cis woman. 

One of my favourite nature experiences was spotting an incredibly grumpy looking tawny owlet sitting on top of its nest box in the woods whilst I was doing my Forest School training.  

You could tell that the mother was sitting just out of view in the trees, keeping a watchful eye over her baby. It was a very special and unexpected surprise! 

I would say to anyone aspiring to be more involved that you should never feel intimidated or that you don’t “know enough” to enjoy yourself and experience nature. It’s absolutely okay to be a beginner, and there are so many different aspects to the outdoors that there will be an area to suit your interests.  

Andra, Our Bright Future, Ulster Wildlife

Katie, Assistant Community Officer, Kent Wildlife Trust

Katie Gurdler, Kent Wildlife Trust

My name is Katie and I work for Kent Wildlife Trust as the Assistant Community Officer. This involves a whole variety of activities to connect people with nature but mostly organising and running public engagement events, planning new community engagement projects and writing project evaluations. 

I have an invisible disability called ME (sometimes known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) which causes extreme fatigue, pain, brain fog and a whole range of other symptoms. I deliberately sought out a part time job because of this and KWT have always been incredibly supportive and flexible with my working arrangements.  

When I was growing up it was my mum that sparked my interest in nature. She was always teaching my sister and me about the birds in our garden and we often had family outings to nature reserves, wildlife parks and zoos. We still regularly talk about the birds and other wildlife she has seen (there was a redwing last week!).

I have so many wonderful nature memories but one of my fondest is probably when I was still at university in Lancaster. I used to take trips out to Leighton Moss RSPB reserve and got to see amazing starling murmurations and to hear and see the elusive “booming” bitterns! 

June, Volunteer, Essex Wildlife Trust

Poppy, Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Intern, The Wildlife Trusts

Poppy, International Women's Day

Hi, I’m Poppy (she/her) an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Intern for The Wildlife Trusts. I’m working to make the movement more inclusive so that everyone can experience the joy wildlife. I want everyone to realise how interconnected, diverse and special our planet is and how everyone can take action to protect our planet.

As a young girl,  I was fortunate enough to have access to a local a country park which was a haven for all kinds of wildlife -it had wetlands, wildflower meadows and rough grasslands.  I was either visiting with my school to complete bug surveys (a great way of using the outdoors to teach maths) or visiting with my family in the summer holidays. During these visits I’d always be most excited about spotting a curious wild rabbit (and I was lucky to have seen them a couple of times)!  Also, growing up my neighbours garden was very well suited for wildlife and we had a hedgerow instead of fence which meant my garden was also regularly visited by the wildlife they attracted. On multiple occasions I had spotted mallards, foxes, hedgehogs and a badger and on one evening even a bat! All of these experiences helped me appreciate the diversity and fragility of wildlife.

We need to drastically improve how we treat and interact with nature, wildlife and the planet. We can build a better future that prioritise nature and climate recovery by challenging the lack of representation within the conservation sector. As a woman of colour, I rarely, if ever saw other women of colour on wildlife TV programmes when growing up.  This was harmful and perpetuated the stereotype that conservation is a white middle-class club and not for people like me.  By considering all aspects of intersectionality we can achieve wider representation across the movement and make all women feel valued and part of the solution when it comes to protecting our planet.  

Women in Conservation at Essex Wildlife Trust

Ciara, Our Bright Future, Ulster Wildlife

Ciara, Our Bright Future

I’m Ciara Henry a, Zoology student in my final year at Queens University Belfast. I live in my hometown of Donaghadee with my little girl Freyja. I’ve always been interested in the natural world and all its glorious inhabitants. In fact, if you’d asked 10 year old me ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ I’d have told you a Zoologist.  

I am the secretary for both the Young Greens NI and the North Down Green Party, as well as being the Green Party Rep for Bangor East and Donaghadee. In the past I have campaigned for women’s reproductive rights and marriage equality. I’m also a candidate in the running to become Queens Student Parent/Carers officer. I’ll be starting my work on that any day now.

I was on a leave of absence from university after giving birth to my daughter. I found it quite difficult adjusting to my new role especially with how isolating lockdown is. I wanted to do something that I could call my own and was for me to enjoy. I saw that Ulster Wildlife had advertised Our Bright Future online and the idea of being surrounded by like minded people who cared about the same environmental, social and political issues I did excited me.   

I’ve loved being surrounded by so many like-minded people who are all passionate about the same issues. Climate anxiety and worries about eco-system breakdown are real for young people, and sometimes our fight can feel exhausting and pointless. Especially when you watch the news or hear the way many politicians dismiss environmental issues. But then we all get together and it gives me the push to keep lobbying, keeping campaigning and to keep trying to make change. This positive attitude then carries over to other areas of my life. Whether that is studying, parenting, or campaigning.  

Environmental issues are always a massive battle, but as the saying goes ‘quiet women seldom make history’. I want change, and for change I need to challenge the status quo. There are times when the only way to make a difference is by being the loudest voice in the room.  

Roberta, Policy & Advocacy Manager, Our Bright Future

Anna, Our Bright Future, Ulster Wildlife

Anna, Climate and Ecological Activist, Our Bright Future

My name is Anna Kernahan and I am an 18 year old climate and ecological activist from Belfast, Northern Ireland. I school strike for the climate weekly as a part of Fridays for Future.  

I joined Our Bright Future because it seemed like a great way to help raise awareness of the climate crisis and to also put discussions into action. It's amazing to engage with other young people who care about the natural world just as much as you while creating positive change. 

The determination and hope that pours from young people in Northern Ireland who are so passionate about the natural world. It's easy to feel very alone when you see the vast expanse of destruction happening globally but being connected to people who are working very hard every day to make a difference has been incredible.

Jen, Visitor Operations Manager, London Wildlife Trust

Georgia, Our Bright Future, Ulster Wildlife

Georgia, Our Bright Future

I’m Georgia, I’m 17 years old and I live in Lisburn. I wanted to join the Our Bright Future group because it seemed like a great community to be involved in- a bunch of other young people who cared about nature who wanted to make schools greener, jobs better and to get our voices heard!

It’s inspired an interest in politics for me which is surprising- I am currently considering doing a politics University course for September! I was also surprised to hear how little time children were spending outdoors, and how this is a more complicated issue than it seems.  

From spending time with a group of people who really value nature, I’ve learnt how important nature is - in our schools, communities etc, for our mental health and saving our environment.  I’ve learnt the different parts of the NI assembly and how it works which is really useful for activism! And I’ve also learnt how to go about meetings with policy makers - how to ensure commitments are made. 

I am a girl who chose to challenge because I was inspired by other young people who were activists and I realised how little our voices were being heard on key issues that will affect us most such as climate change, so I decided to join them.  

Diane, People Engagement Officer, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust

Fiona, Head of Land Management, The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester & North Merseyside

Fiona Whitfield, Lancs Wildlife Trust

My job gives me a lot of purpose and personal satisfaction. When I tell people what I do they usually say ‘that is an amazing job!’, which it is. It is hard work but very rewarding. My advice would be to follow your passion and take every opportunity that is offered with positivity. Enjoy every day.

Emer, Our Bright Future, Ulster Wildlife

Emer, Our Bright Future

My name is Emer Rafferty, I am 17 years old, an aspiring chemist, environmental activist, charitable person with a strong faith and outgoing personality. I am a keen sports player and musician and value family and friendships. I am an ambassador for Global Action Plan and campaign in my local community for preservation of biodiversity and wildlife. I also campaign for social justice charities such as Cancer Now, MacMillan and School Aid Romania. 

My first phone call with Dawn from Ulster Wildlife was a major reason why I wanted to join Our Bright Future. The kindness and warmth in her voice assured me that this group was the right one for me.  

I wanted to join because I was determined to further my environmental action, meet new, like-minded people, gain contacts but most importantly, bring lasting change for the sake of the environment. 

The knowledge within the group is extraordinary. From Dawn’s fascinating facts to the young peoples’ drive and ambition, I have learnt that there are other people who feel as strongly about this crisis as I do which came as a pleasant surprise to me as I can feel at times that I’m ploughing a lonely furrow.  

I have learnt more about wildlife, including various birds, flowers and plants. I can now apply this knowledge to my own work and can teach this to those younger than me. I have also been able to actively promote this information on my community conservationist Facebook page. The Our Bright Future group has given me a sense of purpose, pride and camaraderie.  

Daveen, Director of Nature and Wellbeing, The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside

Daveen Wallis, Lancs Wildlife Trust

As the lead for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion within the Wildlife Trust, I am very aware how critical it is to ensure that all of our activities and opportunities are accessible to everyone, and we are putting actions in place to ensure that we tackle any audiences that are under-represented.  

My advice to women who would like to work in a similar job to this is to build those partnership, talk to anyone and everyone, and enthuse about what you do, and how valuable it is. I believe I am in the position I am because of my passion, commitment and integrity.  Treating people as an equal and offering help and support is key to building trust quickly and that is the fundamental requirement for any partnerships to be successful.

Kirsten, Living Seas Manager, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust