By Olivia Watts 17th May 2024

Flying the flag for the Field Studies Council Young Darwin Scholarship is 26-year-old Charlie Lawler. He’s a role-model for all those toying with the idea of pursuing a green career in the environmental sector and says becoming a Darwin scholar was one of the best decisions he’s ever made.

Charlie was among one of the first scholars to undertake the programme back in 2014. He had just finished his GCSEs and was about to start his A-Levels when he undertook the scholarship at the charity’s Preston Montford site in Shrewsbury, Shropshire.

He said: “I always enjoyed science and geography and had an interest in the natural world. I was generally quite curious and was always wanting to know why things happened the way they did in the natural world which is why I applied for the scholarship.

Charlie taking part in the Young Darwin Scholarship in 2014.

“It was a five-day residential course back then and we did a whole mix of things during the week including mammal trapping, invertebrate surveys, bat field work, canoeing down the River Severn and some local countryside walks.

“One of the things I remember most was completing a spider survey and we happened to discover a species of spider which had not been recorded in that geographical area before so that was really exciting.

“The scholarship was my first real experience of undertaking proper fieldwork and it was great to learn and understand how different methods are applied in the real world.”

Following the scholarship, Charlie went onto to study A-Levels and then a geography degree at the University of Salford. He says the skills he learned during the scholarship came in really useful during his degree and also helped shape his future career choice.

Now working as a Geographic Information System (GIS) consultant for Salford-based Urban Green – a multidisciplinary environmental consultancy working on projects UK-wide – he urged other young people to consider applying for the programme.

He said: “I cannot rate the Young Darwin Scholarship highly enough. It’s a brilliant way for anyone interested in the natural world, geography and science to get a better insight into how professionals use these subjects and to learn a range of applicable field skills.

“People often think if you do a geography degree you’ll go on to be a geography teacher but that isn’t the case at all – there’s lots of opportunities out there.

Charlie is now a GIS consultant and is studying GIS for a Masters Degree.

As a GIS consultant, Charlie’s day-to-day role means he’s responsible for producing habitat maps, tree assessment maps, biodiversity net gain mapping and other types of ecological mapping and analysis.

His plan is to continue to balance work and study. He is currently studying for a Masters Degree in GIS alongside his work and wishes to expand his knowledge further with a PhD.

If you are 16-25 and have an interest in the natural world, apply for the 2024 Young Darwin Scholarship. Applications close on the 2nd of June 2024.