Sunday, 21 April 2024
Sunday, 21 April 2024

Career Shift: From NHS to Environmental Education in London

An experienced manager has returned to her ‘first love’ by taking the reins at an environmental education centre in London.

Jo Vere worked in the NHS for 15 years but has now taken over as manager at the Field Studies Council’s Epping Forest and London day centres, which together welcome more than 38,000 learners a year.

The move demonstrates it’s never too late to change career or give up on your dreams.

Jo said:

“I have always had an interest in the environment. From a really young age I was engaged in being outside and in nature, it just lit me up.

“I remember finding my first pinecone which had been chewed by a squirrel when I was about five years old and it was like finding a piece of treasure.

“I went on to study environmental social science and did a foundation degree in biological surveying and habitat management then worked in conservation for a while, during which time I studied various courses with the Field Studies Council. It’s an organisation I’ve always held in really high regard.

“But, as life does, it sends you in a different direction and I ended up working in the NHS for 15 years – very much working with people and communities, but I moved away from the environment side of things.

“I worked my way up and got a lot of managerial experience but then couldn’t ignore the calling that this is what I’ve always wanted to do.”

The Field Studies Council is the UK’s leading environmental charity and has centres around the country. It offers courses from primary age to A-level as well as day courses and community events.

Jo added:

“The Field Studies Council is a great organisation and I’ve always had my eye on them personally and professionally, and I’ve studied with them where I can over the years.

“When this job came up in Epping Forest it was perfect. I spent time here as a child, I was born and raised in Essex and the demographic here is quite special.

“The school groups we have here are potentially ones that have never stepped foot in a woodland, or been given the opportunity, and the Field Studies Council is all about getting people outside, particularly young people.

“My life is very different to what it was a few months ago and all for the better. I’m settling in and getting to grips with London and everything we offer here. London has an amazing history as an old city, but it has always maintained its green space, which is hugely valuable to us as a teaching resource.”

Jo’s job involves everything from ensuring school visits run smoothly at Epping Forest Field Centre, to changing lightbulbs, to managing partnerships in Epping Forest and London.

The centre in Epping Forest houses a team of 11, including seven education staff and four support staff, and tutors are shared with other Field Studies Council Centres across London.

The team works in partnership with multiple organisations to deliver affordable environmental education across London. It is also involved in flagship projects including The Greenwich Park Revealed Project – a four-year programme at the Royal Parks to restore and regenerate the landscape and improve facilities for the local community.

As a Royal Parks’ learning partner, the Field Studies Council provides outdoor learning experiences as part of this project to enable local schools, families and adults to learn more about the park’s unique heritage.

Jo and the team also work with the Royal Parks to deliver sessions under the school bursary scheme to provide opportunities for cash-strapped schools.

Jo added:

“I do not regret my career as the NHS has given me so much experience. It connected me with community and that’s exactly what the Field Studies Council is all about.”

For more information about the Field Studies Council and the residential and day courses it offers, please visit: www.field-studies-council.org/.

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