New to Nature

  • Contributor information: CNP

Lily in the Lake District

Lily joined us in July 2023 on a 12-month traineeship as part of the New to Nature scheme led by Groundwork UK. Previously, she has been involved in youth advisory roles in the nature sector as a volunteer at the London Wildlife Trust, as well as designing events and campaigns getting young and diverse communities engaged in climate change at university and as part of the UK Youth Climate Coalition.

I’m pleased to join the Campaign for National Parks team in this trainee role and to have the opportunity to be involved across our work, from advocating for greater emphasis on Protected Landscapes in English and Welsh governments to supporting more people to get involved in supporting our campaigns and visiting National Parks. In my first month, I’ve enjoyed getting to know our supporters and Protected Landscapes colleagues, and building my knowledge as someone new to the nature sector.  

I’ve always loved nature and being outdoors. Fortunate to have grown up in a rural area, I’ve enjoyed opportunities to connect with nature and National Parks from a young age- having trips to the Yorkshire Dales, the Peak District and the North Yorkshire Moors throughout my childhood. A career that works to protect the places and wildlife I love is new to me and I’m looking forward to the next year in this role.  

Since starting as Campaigns Assistant, I’ve already been able to develop many new skills and been involved in some things with real impact- like writing content for our website, supporting our policy work and representing Campaign for National Parks in work with our partners (I was in Westminster on my second day on the job!). My day-to-day includes a mix of producing content for our digital communications, assisting our policy work, and fundraising and admin tasks, as well as supporting the development of Campaign for National Park’s youth work.  

“I’m particularly looking forward to working on youth-led campaigns with our Young Advisors and helping to develop new work with young people. Young people are hugely underrepresented in the environmental sector and I’m really enthusiastic about making space for youth voice and governance, as well as schemes that provide direct routes into paid employment such as New to Nature.” 

New to Nature provides young people from diverse backgrounds with 12-month paid placements in the environment sector, including training and mentorship to give them the foundational skills they need for an environmental career. 

Having a creative background, I never really saw the environmental sector as somewhere I could work. I graduated into the pandemic with no clear idea of what I wanted to do next and after a year struggling to find a job, I ended up returning to university to pursue my interest in working for social and environmental change. Even so, many environmental courses just like jobs in the sector required qualifications- like science or geography A-levels- or experience I didn’t have.  

Much of the advice about breaking into a green career suggests volunteering so I began seeking out opportunities alongside my studies and later part-time work, until I came across the New to Nature scheme. Though volunteering helped me gain some of the experience I was lacking, being able to undertake a paid traineeship is really helping me commit fully to pursuing my environmental career. The common expectation of unpaid work excludes a lot of young from the sector and that’s one of the reasons the New to Nature scheme and things like it are so important. 

As someone who has experienced barriers to accessing an environmental career, I’m keen to help make the outdoor environment and nature campaigning places other underrepresented groups can feel are for them. The natural environment in the UK needs the support of as many people as possible to restore our huge amounts of lost habitats and biodiversity and to support our resilience to climate change. Getting young people into jobs in the sector and involving diverse groups in campaigns are both key. 

There are huge opportunities in the work we do at Campaign for National Parks to introduce more people to Protected Landscapes and encourage them to get involved in standing up for their protection. Our campaigning work with young people as well as the National Parks: New Perspectives project are great examples of how a charity like Campaign for National Parks can help to diversify the environmental sector. Through this traineeship, I’m looking forward to being involved in these and other great projects we’re working on. 

With the 75th Anniversary of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act coming up next year, as well as a general election, I don’t think there could be a better year to be doing this placement. I’m so pleased to have this opportunity and I’m looking forward to making the most of it.