Studying Ecology or Environmental science

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ChrisK
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Studying Ecology or Environmental science

Postby ChrisK » Mon Apr 17, 2017 7:49 pm

HI there,

I wondering if any of you good folk have any experience / recommendations for studying Environmental science with a view to taking it into butterfly conservation? I've already done a degree in a completely unrelated topic so can't really afford to do another degree course so was wondering about BTEC Diplomas, and I'll probably need to do it distance learning too. Any advice greatly received!

Chris

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Pete Eeles
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Re: Studying Ecology or Environmental science

Postby Pete Eeles » Mon Apr 17, 2017 8:50 pm

Hi Chris,

I thought I should reply since I asked almost the same question of several of the "great and the good" a few years ago. I also have a degree in a completely unrelated discipline (Mechanical Engineering in my case, although I now work in IT) and wanted to develop a sound grounding in ecology, especially, since I realised that this is what I am actually most interested in.

The solid advice I received may be related to my age (I'm not looking to change profession at this stage in life, and would probably describe myself as a super-keen amateur!), which was not to deflect my (precious) time gaining a qualification that, during the course of study, would take me away from what I actually am most interested in (butterflies!), but to focus on building up practical experience (rather than theory). I'm still very torn, to be honest, since I would love to have the grounding that many others have when I research particular species.

Since then, I've buried myself in reading PhD theses covering differing species - including Chequered Skipper (Neil Ravenscroft), White Admiral (Barry Fox, who I met up with a few weeks ago), Marsh Fritillary (Ken Porter, Caroline Bulman and several others), etc. I've then put their work into effect while studying species I have access to (Chequered Skipper and, in the works, White Admiral).

I realise that my studies are probably seen as less authoritative because of my lack of any related qualification and associated moniker but, to be honest, I think I've met my goal - which was to extend our knowledge of our native butterfly fauna and, as importantly, to foster an interest (which I did receive an award for, which was rather nice!).

And so ... my conclusion is that whatever path you take depends very much on your end goal. Getting the knowledge and qualifications is just a step toward that. Once you know your goal, work back from that, and get advice from as many people as you can!

Cheers,

- Pete

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David M
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Re: Studying Ecology or Environmental science

Postby David M » Mon Apr 17, 2017 9:33 pm

Good answer, Pete, and Chris, I would say to you that you might find it helpful to contact Butterfly Conservation itself. They ought to be able to at least aim you in the right general direction:

http://butterfly-conservation.org/

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NickMorgan
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Re: Studying Ecology or Environmental science

Postby NickMorgan » Mon Apr 17, 2017 10:54 pm

Chris,
I think a very good move for you would be to volunteer for any local wildlife groups or organisations. I don't know what there is likely to be near you. We have groups such as the Scottish Wildlife Trust, Scottish Ornithology Club or your local Countryside Ranger Service. You will pick up valuable experience which may not be directly relevant to butterflies, but which you will be able to transfer over towards your own interests. You will also meet plenty of people who will be able to advise you on relevant courses and qualifications which will be useful to you.
I am afraid that this sort of work is becoming more and more difficult to get into, but get your name known by working with local groups and organisations and let people see how keen you are.
I should have followed in my father's footsteps and been a biologist, but as a teenager I wanted to do something different. I ended up having my own typesetting and artwork company before Apple rendered my business worthless. So, at the age of 31 I decided I wanted to be a countryside ranger. I found a relevant four-year university course and spend each Wednesday afternoon volunteering for the local countryside ranger service and worked with them for my honours thesis. Once qualified I applied for a job with them, but wasn't successful, but when their seasonal ranger left half way through a contract they contacted me and offered me the remaining three months of the contract. It took a further four seasonal contracts before I managed to get a full-time job with them.
If you are truly passionate about it, you will end up with the job you want, but be prepared to give up a lot of time volunteering and networking.
Good luck. I hope you manage to sort something out.

peterc
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Re: Studying Ecology or Environmental science

Postby peterc » Tue Apr 18, 2017 7:39 am

Hi Chris,

Have you thought of the Open University? They have a number of ecology-related courses - see http://www.open.ac.uk/courses/find/ecology

I took just the ecology course (half a unit) as it was then in 1993 while in full-time work. I didn't have trouble fitting it in but then if I remember rightly, it required only about 10 hours a week study for one year. If you are not too bothered embarking on a Honours course then this might be a good choice for you. I found it very useful and learnt a lot from it.

Good luck whatever you decide to do.

ATB

Peter

ChrisK
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Re: Studying Ecology or Environmental science

Postby ChrisK » Tue Apr 18, 2017 10:29 am

Thank you all so much for your advice and experiences. I think ultimately my goal is to get back into nature with more of a science background. As I child and teenager I was obsessed with butterflies but sadly left it all behind in search of a cooler vocation, I ended up being a DJ for years and working in the events industry. 3 Kids later and being 40 next month I would love the chance to get back to my roots and work in a field that I truly am passionate about. I have heard from a few people that volunteering is the best route so will contact my local wildlife trust and the Norfolk Branch of Butterfly Conservation, also the RSPB have some amazing reserves here in Norfolk. I'm yet to get out and network with my local BC group so I'm looking forward to that a lot. In regards to the studying, I suppose my goal is to make myself as employable as possible but don't really have the finance to do a bachelors degree again. I've started having a look at QGIS and training myself in the use of that as it seems to be used pretty widespread.

ChrisK
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Re: Studying Ecology or Environmental science

Postby ChrisK » Tue Apr 18, 2017 10:32 am

Pete Eeles wrote:Since then, I've buried myself in reading PhD theses covering differing species - including Chequered Skipper (Neil Ravenscroft), White Admiral (Barry Fox, who I met up with a few weeks ago), Marsh Fritillary (Ken Porter, Caroline Bulman and several others), etc. I've then put their work into effect while studying species I have access to (Chequered Skipper and, in the works, White Admiral).



Thanks for your advice Pete, these PhD's sound fascinating, how would I go about getting them?

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Pete Eeles
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Re: Studying Ecology or Environmental science

Postby Pete Eeles » Thu Apr 20, 2017 6:56 am

ChrisK wrote:Thanks for your advice Pete, these PhD's sound fascinating, how would I go about getting them?


Hi Chris - that depends on the PhD itself, options being:

1. Available online (free or paid for).
2. Requested from the relevant university (free or paid for).
3. Photocopied from a source.
4. etc.

In all cases, I start by reading various papers etc. that are online (Google Scholar is pretty good) and each paper will contain the references used - these often mention the original works which, in some cases, are PhD theses. It's then a case of hunting around and finding out where to obtain them from.

Cheers,

- Pete


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