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How I went from being a nurse to a park ranger

Former nurse Sophie Brown is now an Assistant Ranger for the South Downs National Park.

Sophie has also been helping to deliver the Farming in Protected Landscapes initiative, which is supporting nature-friendly farming and sustainability in the countryside.

Leaving nursing to become a park ranger

I really enjoyed being a nurse and loved working as part of a close-knit team. Shortly after qualifying I took up bird ringing reconnecting with my childhood love for birds.

I then realised that I loved ecology more than medicine and wanted to look for a career that took me outside, working to conserve wildlife.

Working as a ranger, I still have the pleasure of working as part of a close team and meeting lots of wonderful people working towards the same goal of improving the landscape for wildlife.

What does a National Park ranger do

Rangers work with landowners on projects that improve habitat and biodiversity, or access to the countryside. We often go out with volunteers to get practical tasks done. In the summer there are ecological surveys to be done and lots of events to engage people with the countryside.

What the job is like day to day

Varied! Some days are out with the volunteers doing habitat management or doing bird and insect surveys.

Sometimes we go and meet landowners on site to offer advice and other days we are out doing public events, introducing the public to the National Park; how to access it and the wonderful wildlife they can see.

What I love about my job

Being outside and practical, working with lots of different people, variety throughout the seasons.

My advice

Find local opportunities to volunteer and meet different organisations.

Look out for apprenticeships and traineeships. Countryside Job Service is a good website to look for volunteering as well as paid positions.

There are also lots of courses available through the Fields Studies Council, PTES and the Wildlife Trusts.

Follow what you enjoy and learn as much as you can!

Charlotte Harding
Charlotte Harding
Charlotte is a journalist and the co-founder of The Women's Work Collective.
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