Conservation Volunteering – Nicholas Gibson Looks Back on his Journey

I signed up to numerous volunteering opportunities simultaneously. With a background in computing, widespread acceptance of my application was not something I expected but ‘giving up’ is not an option in my books.

Image: By Huhu Uet (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Nicholas Dean Gibson (Wildlife enthusiast and volunteer)

The UK is a prolific haven for wildlife, supported by a variety of amazingly beautiful geological features and habitats, making a career in conservation an exciting prospect for many. I am one of one of them. Looking back, the meandering trek was not a simple one. Was it enriching and exciting? Without a doubt.

Here is my story…

It began with…

Applying for volunteering jobs

Stepping into the realm of conservation and wildlife, intending to partake in any volunteering opportunities I could manage was a life changing & humbling experience – I signed up to numerous volunteering opportunities simultaneously.With a background in computing, widespread acceptance of my application was not something I expected but ‘giving up’ is not an option in my books.

I began tackling the problem on home turf by probing my local council about education & awareness of wildlife and conservation. This quickly transcended to meeting a masters student and participating in his research. I was one among the 6 he recruited to aid in his project: DNA testing of Grass Snakes (Natrix natrix). – I was extremely happy with the outcome and inspired to move on to…

Finding a ‘niche’

Understanding and selecting the field/domain in which you wish to contribute is the first step. I strayed into many education volunteering opportunities – many of which were albeit beneficial but did not provide me with the sort of exposure I needed coming from a very non-ecology/conservation background and heading towards a conservation career.

For those with science/conservation background or formal qualifications wishing to gain practical experience to compliment it, probing local initiatives as well as educational initiatives – such as University researchers – is an advantageous start. For those without formal education in the relevant field, like myself, do not fret. You can support the fact that you have no formal education with short educational courses and a wealth of personal research – which has paid dividends in my situation.

For those beginning to probe for volunteering opportunities, it’s important to correct the premise of searching for conservation volunteering opportunities at well known and reputable organizations. There are numerous openings within organisations of a similar vein that are relatively smaller and lesser known but a great place to be a ‘bigger fish’ because the pond is smaller – your work may get noticed much sooner and the learning curve could be beneficially steep. I have found several opportunities such as habitat construction (building ponds, and fences) on the websites of these type of organizations.

I hope you find something useful from this text and continue to pursue your search for opportunities to help those that we inhabit this planet with, and to protect and support the only home our species has ever had or known.

If you have any questions or comments for Nicholas, feel free to leave them below. Got a conservation volunteering experience you’d like to tell us about/tips for other aspiring conservationists? Leave your thoughts below


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