By Olivia Watts 7th April 2023

Rosa is one of the many young people that have taken part in our Young Darwin Scholarship. As applications have now opened for 2023, Rosa has kindly shared an insight into the opportunity, and how it has helped to shape her career.

What made you apply for the scholarship?

It’s guaranteed that anyone aspiring to work in the ecology field will have been encouraged by professionals to volunteer to gain experience. But during my past voluntary roles, I often found that I was the only young person in a team of older adults. Whilst any experience can be a valuable learning opportunity, I wanted the opportunity to network with other young people who shared the same passions for our natural world, and the Young Darwin Scholarship seemed to fill that gap.

Top tips for the scholarship application?

  1. Think about why you enjoy nature, whether it’s learning new things, recreational time spent outdoors, or nature-inspired creative outlets. On the first day, we discussed our relationships with nature and the breadth of different backgrounds was amazing — from academic studies, and a love of learning, to poetry and wild food foraging.
  2. Express what you want to get out of the experience. Not only will this help the Field Studies Council assess which opportunities might be best for you after the residential, but it will help give your application direction.
  3. You don’t need to have seen the rarest species or travelled to the farthest places like Darwin himself — a love for your local natural spaces can go a long way!

Can you share three highlights from the experience?

  1. The people and the energy they brought with them. It was great to be surrounded and supported by people with such similar values, motivations, and aspirations.
  2. Learning so much about our natural world. It was such fun to engage in so many interesting conversations, from really niche topics like the folklore of British grey herons to questioning the bigger picture and the role of systemic change in the face of biodiversity loss.
  3. Leaving with newfound knowledge — it might sound silly, but leaving the residential aspect of the scholarship with a notebook full of great information, courses, and job opportunities gave me a new confidence in myself as an ecologist, which has stuck with me ever since!

What have you been up to since the scholarship?

Since the scholarship, I’ve started a placement year with the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust as part of my university degree. I’ve been helping with various scientific research including an international salmonid (a family of elongate fish, such as salmon and trout) tagging project and a laboratory-based study looking into fox diets across Southern England.

I’ve also begun working on the organising team of UKYouth4Nature after being recommended by another young person in the group. In this role, I’ve learned so much about policies and how nature is influenced by the top powers, but also about community and how much of a difference people in numbers can make.

I have begun training for my bird ringing license with a local group, using mist nets and nest boxes to collect information about local species for the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO). I’ve really enjoyed seeing all the different species and sharing them on social media to help educate others about our wildlife.

What are your main takeaways from the experience?

The Young Darwin Scholarship was a fantastic opportunity to meet lots of new people within the ecology network and learn from their successes. The professionals were a hub of knowledge and truly inspiring. The young people have maintained an active group chat where we post news articles, jobs, and opportunities for each other. So much exciting personal and professional development has come from this group chat, and I’m grateful to the Field Studies Council for facilitating these friendships.

How can you get involved?

Applications are now open for 2023! Plus, as it is the Field Studies Council’s 80th birthday, they have 80 places available! Click the links below to find out more!

Learn more about the Young Darwin Scholarship

Apply now! – Applications are open until 9pm on the 4th of June 2023.