Working for nature

Working for Nature

Wild flower spotting, Priestcliffe Lees 

What is the Working for Nature Traineeship?

Are you passionate about wildlife? Do you have a genuine desire to have a career in outdoor nature conservation? Have you always wanted to study or train in conservation but haven’t got the right qualifications or experience yet? Well, the Working for Nature traineeship might just be for you!

Our Working for Nature trainee scheme enables people with no previous experience or qualifications to work alongside our team and our volunteers, to develop hands-on practical experience and vital professional skills to help take that first step to a career in conservation.

Let us tell you more...

Why are we doing this?

Getting into a career in conservation can be difficult – there are few employment opportunities and those that do exist are incredibly competitive. To succeed, applicants need to have the correct training and experience and often people without a degree or equivalent formal education can be put off applying for jobs. We want to make sure that people who are passionate about wildlife and conservation are able to train and develop the right skills to be able to successfully apply for the career of their choice. If this sounds like you, keep reading!

How does it work?

Six funded traineeships are available each year until 2022, thanks for funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund. The project is split between three of our Trusts – Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust and Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust and two trainees are taken on in each area each year.

Recruits work along a supervisor at the Wildlife Trust they are based at and study for a Level 2 City and Guilds Diploma in Work-based Environmental Conservation, supported by the Working for Nature Training Officer. The traineeship is a practical one, so you will be working outdoors for much of the time. You study in either an indoor or outdoor classroom one day a week to work through your Diploma. This includes research and written work which you complete throughout the traineeship and is assessed as you go along. There is also the opportunity to complete an external work placement to gain more experience in the conservation sector.

Will I get paid?

Yes you will! 

Each placement lasts for 44 weeks and working hours are 35 per week. Trainees receive a tax-free bursary of over £11,000 to pay for rent, bills, food etc. whilst they are in training.

What are the requirements?

You do not need to have any specific training or qualifications to apply for the Working for Nature traineeship, but we are specifically looking for individuals who:

  • Have a genuine passion for the natural world and conservation and a desire to work in the conservation sector.
  • Are over the age of 18 at the start of the traineeship.
  • Have not received graduate level education. You must not have a degree to be eligible to apply. If you have a degree the Wildlife Trust’s volunteer trainee schemes may be suitable for you.
  • Have a strong work ethic.
  • Are punctual and reliable.
  • Have determination and perseverance.
  • Are willing to learn new skills.
  • Can commit to a full time schedule of 35 hours a week (or part time on request) of training starting in January 2021.
  • Have their own transport (this is necessary at this moment in time to allow us to conform to Covid-19 recommendations for safe working).
  • Do not do any paid work during the traineeship – this is due to the requirements of the bursary agreement.
  • Are eligible to work in the UK.

The WFN team want to attract people with a wide range of abilities and from different backgrounds, to represent the UK as a whole. We are an inclusive employer and encourage applications from all sections of the community, particularly those underrepresented within our sector, such as people from black, Asian, minority Ethnic backgrounds, those with mental health issues, with no prior qualifications and those interested in changing career.

If this sounds like something for you, you have enthusiasm for the natural world and are ready to learn new skills, please:

1. Read the Working for Nature Trainee Role Description

2. See details on how to apply below

If you have any questions in the meantime, please contact Laura Jones, Working for Nature Project Officer on

Our trainees say....

Josh's story

My name is Joshua Barnsdale and I was lucky enough to be given a spot at Idle Valley Nature Reserve on this traineeship. My story started when I started volunteering at Sconce and Devon Park as a Shadow Ranger. There I got my first taste of nature conservation and I knew that this was something I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing.

Before I started getting into my passion I suffered from extreme depression which led me to become an alcoholic with no future. Nature saved my life and gave me the confidence to climb out of that dark place and find my true calling in life. This traineeship has helped me progress as a person and I can say that this opportunity has opened my eyes wide.

In my first month I have done everything from animal checking to wildlife management, even an outdoor first aid course which I found extremely interesting. Me and the other trainees did a harvest mouse survey which can be carried over to other species when surveying and has made me confident I can do surveys efficiently.

The ultimate goal of mine and where I hope the course can help me is to get my foot into nature conservation. I want to make this my life long career so I may better myself and improve nature not destroy it, protecting it for future generations. I believe as the world moves towards having more technology, we are forgetting where we came from and that we are not the only living things on the planet. It is important for children to get involved with nature and their surroundings so they may pass it on when they are older.

The course has been pretty physical and mentally challenging but I feel myself improving every week and getting better adjusting to my environment. The course has taught me loads so far and I find it extremely interesting and informative.

The course is extremely fun and interesting but has its physical side to it, it keeps you healthy and feeling good that you are helping nature and improving every day. I have only been with the Trust for a month now and I already feel I have improved mentally and physically and would honestly recommend the traineeship. If your passion is nature and working outdoors then this placement is for you, don't worry just apply for it, you won’t regret it!

Shaun's story

My name is Shaun and I am a Working 4 Nature trainee based at Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust. I decided to pursue the traineeship after I attended the John Muir award. I had never done outdoor physical labour before and didn’t realise I would enjoy it so much. Being outdoors in a green space and doing some physical labour actually turned out to be really fun. I have since gained a big interest in conservation as a whole and am interested in pursuing a career in conservation and I hope that this traineeship will give me the skills and experience I need to succeed. So far I have done loads of different tasks outdoors as the Sheffield and Rotherham team have lots of variation in the types of sites we visit and I think that’s my favourite part. Getting to visit so many sites and improve/maintain them is really fulfilling. Overall I am really enjoying the traineeship and believe it is helping me achieve my personal goals and better myself as a person.

Sharron's story

Hi, my name is Sharron and I am placed with Derbyshire Wildlife Trust. In my past I have been actively volunteering for over 10 years in the UK and overseas. I chose the traineeship to gain experience, certificates, skills and qualifications to help in my career change into becoming a full time conservationist. I am very passionate about doing something to improve the current situation faced by the wildlife in the UK. I am delighted that I have the opportunity to retrain with a great Trust in such a fantastic location. Since starting the traineeship I have been working closely with conservation experts, alongside volunteers and reserve managers and we have been undertaking activities such as  Hedge laying, Fence repairs, Pond management, Wooden construction, Meadow clearance and identification classes.

There is so much more to experience and learn. No two days are the same.

Completing the traineeship will be an incredibly important achievement that will help me to have a better understanding of biodiversity, habitats climate change, legislation and ecosystem services. It could also support me in securing a permanent role in environmental conservation.

James' story

Hi my name is James and I’m based at the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust as a Working for Nature trainee. I chose this traineeship as I have a keen interest in our natural world and would like to gain the skills to access a career in conservation.  I left school with a few GCSE’s and entered the construction trade working in various roles.  After About 10 years in the construction industry I decided to travel abroad and volunteer on wildlife projects. Working alongside people who had put their own lives on the line to devote their time to working with nature was an inspiring experience and encouraged me to change my career path.

While I knew I wanted to work in the field of conservation I struggled to get a foot in the door as I do not have the relevant qualifications. The Working For Nature project will help me to gain the relevant skills and knowledge to enable me to access a career in conservation.

Over the last few weeks we have worked alongside employees and volunteers to assist on nature reserves that have required maintaining to restore habitat and encourage native species on to the land. These initial few weeks have given a great insight into what it takes to look after the nature reserves and how the work of staff and volunteers can transform an area of land in a few hours. 

Everyone involved in the trust has a diverse range of knowledge and specialist in their own areas of interest. It has been great learning about the local land and its diverse range of species and habitat,  this has inspired me to further my understanding and I aim to encourage others to learn and find out more about nature. 

From feeding cows, to fixing fencepost to finding out about fungi, there is lots to learn on the Working for Nature programme and I am looking forward to gaining further skills to start a career in conservation.

Great, how do I apply?...

The next round of Working for Nature training will start in January 2021.  Recruitment for this round is currently underway, and all new applications are now closed for 2021. 

For those that have applied please see below for next steps.

  1. We will invite all eligible applicants who sent us an expression of interest form to an online information session. Here you will get to meet the Working for Nature team, find out more about the traineeship and what you need to do to apply and you can ask questions.  The information sessions will be held in September.
  2. If after attending the online information session you want to apply for the traineeship, you will need to fill in an application form and also complete some outdoor conservation work.  Don’t worry if you haven’t done any outdoor conservation work before!  We will give you lots of tips and ideas of what you can do, and once you’ve completed it, you can achieve a John Muir Discovery Award!
  3. We will go through all of the applications we receive and shortlist the best applicants.  Those applicants will be invited for a face to face interview in November 2020.  

If you have any questions in the meantime, please contact Laura Jones, Working for Nature Project Officer on


With thanks to

The fascinating project has been made possible thanks to National Lottery players through The National Lottery Heritage Fund

The National Lottery Heritage Fund logo
The Wildlife Trusts believe that people are part of nature; everything we value ultimately comes from it and everything we do impacts upon it.
The Wildlife Trusts

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