By Jodie Holyoake
To say it’s been a whirlwind year for myself is putting it lightly! After graduating from my degree in Marine and Natural History Photography and persistently applying for jobs in the conservation sector for a good while, I was overjoyed to receive *that* phone call telling me that I was going to be the Your Shore Beach Rangers Apprentice back in April 2019.
Throughout my years of photographing the marvels of the blue world and volunteering my time locally in my marine group, I always struggled with exactly HOW I was going to this passion into a career. It’s a struggle most of my peers had around me and it’s definitely not the easiest industry to get a start in, especially at a young age. But I knew with perseverance, motivation and a lot of getting to know Cornwall’s community of marine warriors, my opportunities would improve in time. And luckily for me, that opportunity came in the form of joining Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s Marine Team (an awesome bunch of people to say the least).
When starting out on this journey, I didn’t realise just how much I’d grow (as corny as that may sound)! A lot of my apprenticeship role involves social media, marketing and event promotion which I enjoy thoroughly. But it’s the opportunities outside of my main duties that have contributed the most to my personal and professional development. As a young person working on this project and being involved in the Our Bright Future youth forum, I’ve really been able to push myself outside of my comfort zone, take up new challenges and soak up the wealth of knowledge from those around me – all with the support of my team. And that is EXACTLY why I feel this apprenticeship is one-of-a-kind. Although the journey hasn’t always been smooth-sailing, I’ve been thankful for all the experiences that I’ve been able to progress form. I’d love to leave with you three highlights from my apprenticeship, which reinstates just how much of an impact this project can have on a young person such as myself…
Going to Belfast
Only a few weeks after beginning my apprenticeship, I was asked if I’d like to join Jax and our Our Bright Future youth forum representatives Adele and Laura in attending the all-project seminar – this year in Belfast, Northern Ireland! All 31 projects came together to celebrate the achievements of the 5-year youth empowerment programme and to help motivate each other for the year ahead. It was extremely valuable to learn more about the other projects and what made Our Bright Future so unique early on in my apprenticeship. Speaking to a mixture of youth forum reps and project staff across the two days was great, as well as the activities put on for us by the Belfast Hills (I mean… it doesn’t get much better than making your own pencil)! Since coming back home, I’ve loved keeping up-to-date with all the projects and young people virtually and can’t wait to see everyone this October again.
With the help of Our Bright Future’s Youth Forum Coordinator Lydia Allen, I received an incredible opportunity to speak at A Focus on Nature’s ‘Now for Nature’ conference at the Natural History Museum in London (Left image). A Focus On Nature is the UK’s youth nature network, working with partnership organisations to develop a youth conservation movement, and I couldn’t believe I was speaking amongst the likes of Chris Packham, Stephen Moss and others from WWF-UK, Marine Conservation Society and even government! More importantly, the conference gave me the chance to network and connect with so many other inspirational, young conservationists; some of whom I still keep in touch with on social media today.
Back in February this year was another big conference date – our annual Your Shore Conference which had over 120 attendees on the day (Right image)! It’s always one of my favourite events of the year, simply because it’s a chance to look back at what the Your Shore Network and Beach Ranger Academy has achieved and meet up with those who you rarely get to see (even in this small county of Cornwall). To top it off this year, I got to present alongside my fellow beach rangers Laura Thornton and Josh Symes who continue to inspire me with the work that they’re doing!
Last but not least, I’ve developed a huge passion for communicating the wonders of our underwater world here in Cornwall, through my work on our digital platforms and social media. I feel it’s really important to try and engage people from outside the ‘conservation bubble’, so that we can avoid preaching to the converted and encourage new people to join the Your Shore Network and help us protect our local blue spaces. My work has involved doing Instagram takeovers for both The Wildlife Trust’s and Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s large audiences during National Marine Week and our YSBR Shark Month, developing our Love Your Beach Week 2020 Map and helping to create our ‘Every Body’s A Beach Body’ online campaign for last year’s Mental Health Awareness Week. It’s been amazing to see the reactions to our online presence (especially during lockdown) and I’d love to continue this type of work further in my career.