Following the introduction of our ‘Meet the team’ page comes our mini blog series. Each week, hear personally from our team members about their roles at EcoNorth and more. This week, meet Laura, our Assistant Ecologist.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I am 28 years old and originally from Northumberland, UK. I have always lived in the North East and even chose to study locally, at Newcastle University. In my free time I love nothing more than a trip up the Northumbrian Coast, taking my dog for a run on the beach and to the pub.
Summarise your role at EcoNorth
I joined the team at EcoNorth just over a year ago, starting in March 2017 – and what a year it’s been! I’m regularly outdoors conducting Preliminary Ecological Appraisals (PEAs) and protected species surveys, before returning to the office to report my findings and manage projects. Since joining EcoNorth, I have become licensed to work with bats and great crested newts.
What got you into Ecology?
As a small child I spent many hours out of doors, tending allotments with my parents, catching minnows and toads with my brothers, catching bugs with my friends and learning about local wildlife whilst out on family walks or camping trips. I suppose I have never grown out of it!
When I left school, I studied Countryside Management at Northumberland College, Kirkley Hall. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the practical side of the course, which included drystone walling and hedge laying, I wasn’t too sure where this would lead me. It wasn’t until my second year at University that I discovered the role of an Ecologist and knew this would be the career path for me.
What do you like most about working as an Ecological Consultant?
The best part of the job is the variety; one day I can be conducting a survey in a fantastic habitat (woodlands are my favourite) and the following night I can be watching and listening to bats foraging around my head at sunset. There are many areas within ecology to explore which is exciting.
Describe the project you have worked on that you are proudest of. What did you do that worked out particularly well?
I am particularly proud of one of the first projects I managed myself. It involved conducting a PEA survey in Chester-Le-Street and, although it wasn’t the most diverse site, the project ran smoothly and according to plan, and I was commended for my successful endeavours.
What do you see for the future?
In the future, I hope to continue developing my knowledge and experience within ecology, and managing larger and more complex projects. I particularly enjoy botany so I am keen to develop my flora identification and survey skills. A dream project would be conducting National Vegetation Classification (NVC) surveys over a series of sunny days in a range of diverse habitats.
Finally, what advice would you give to anyone starting out?
In ecology, experience is paramount and really helps an individual to stand out from the crowd. Being involved with local groups or assisting local consultancies with newt or bat surveys are perfect ways to gain such experience. They also provide essential networking opportunities.
Meet My Dog:
Tell us a bit about yourself
I am a four-year-old lurcher called Belle. I enjoy zooming around expansive, open spaces and chasing my ball, followed by long, relaxing snoozes on the settee. I’ve also recently taken up flyball!
What do you like most about coming to the office?
I adore that there are so many people to greet, and I am especially keen on creeping up on them and seeing how long I can stand there before they notice me. It’s a fun game. When I’m not saying hi to everyone, I love to snooze the day away.
How do you help you owner be a better Ecologist?
I excel at alerting my owner when there is a cat nearby, which could save the local birds and bats in the long run?!
What is the funniest thing you ever done?
On several occasions I have found fox poo perfume out in the woods to roll in after my owner has given me a bath, which was great fun, until I had to have another bath afterwards.