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Totnes’ Mansion Hosts the First South Devon Earth Futures Event.

Dartmoor National Park LogoOn Thursday 30th May, the first happening hosted by the South Devon Earth Futures group took place at The Mansion on Totnes’ Fore Street. The event was aimed at early-career environmentalists working or looking to work in nature-related professions.

Hosted by Dartmoor NPA’s Jazz Austin, a mixed group of environmentally-minded attendees from across the South Devon area heard talks from four local professionals and connected with each other over wholesome food provided by Canteen Totnes.

RSPBSpeakers from the RSPB, Exeter University, the Woodland Trust and the Westcountry Rivers Trust shared their career stories to date and took practical questions from the 40 or so listeners.

The need for resilience

Acknowledging that breaking into the environment sector has often been a rocky road – paved with low or unpaid internships and volunteering stints for those that can afford to do them – several of the panel emphasised the need for resilience and to take the opportunities in front of you. Chances to gain practical experience at home and abroad should be grasped with both hands – whether bat surveying here in southwest England or on research trips further afield.

Building up a thick skin can help mitigate the frustration of applying multiple times to the same position before seeing success, or from the often snail-like pace of progress when working to change environmental policy.

The Woodland Trust

Cautious Optimism

Some of the speakers having worked for over a decade in the sector, cause for cautious optimism was a common theme of the night; there’s now significantly greater funding and many more job opportunities in the UK environment sector than even a few years ago. Prospective job candidates were advised to make themselves stand out to recruiters by letting their passion and ‘nerdy-ness’ for nature shine through in applications.

Westcountry Rivers TrustThe topic of climate anxiety was raised in the Q&A: how do the scientists and project managers working in the sector today cope with a backdrop of what often seems like the endless acceleration of the climate and environmental crises? Celebrating the wins – however small – was advised, as was self-care to protect your energy to keep up the fight.

Organiser Jazz Austin said: “After several months of planning, I was so pleased to see the first South Devon Earth Futures event start with such success! Our speakers shared their unique and inspiring stories about their environmental career journeys, and I particularly enjoyed seeing so many aspiring and current practitioners connect and get to know each other around the talks. I’ll definitely be putting on another event later this year, building on the learnings from the first session, and I’d love to hear from anyone who’s keen to get involved in the future.

The group aims to organise events every few months, which from the collective energy and flourishing conversation in the room will likely be hotly anticipated by the local green community.

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