Conservationist Katie bags her dream job in South Africa
Based at their Greater Kruger site in South Africa, Katie supports African Impact’s conservation research across the region including delivering conservation workshops to local schools, leading volunteer groups on game drives, data collection trips and delivering awareness presentations on topics such as rhino poaching, ecology and hunting.
Despite her primary role as field guide Katie also heads up an Ecology Management Project for the organisation, helping to rejuvenate the 18-hectare site. Most recently, Katie and supporting volunteers began removing invasive species from the area and introduced a butterfly garden to monitor populations and species diversification.
Said Katie: “My job is exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time, no day is ever the same! I’m on a constant steep learning curve working with a whole host of volunteers who test my knowledge on a daily basis, which certainly keeps me on my toes!
“I’m always studying to keep up with industry trends and working days of up to 16 hours are challenging. However, I wouldn’t change it for the world. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else, I get to wake up every day in the African bush and say ‘welcome to my office’!”
Before joining Reaseheath, although she has always wanted to work with animals, Katie admits she had trouble choosing the right career in a very diverse industry. She initially completed an apprenticeship in small animal care, but realised that it wasn’t the right path for her.
As a mature student Katie had been out of full time education for a while, so prepared for her degree by completing a Access to Higher Education course in biological sciences in her home town of Hull. She went on to combine studying for her degree with a job as a supermarket deputy manager.
“I always knew I wanted to work with endangered animals, however in such a competitive industry it can be hard to know how to pursue your dream.
“I left school at 17 and never thought I would go back into education. But with the support of lecturers at Reaseheath, I’ve gained the personal confidence and professional encouragement to develop skills I didn’t know I had. Those skills I will no doubt benefit from for many years to come.
“Despite the hard work needed to complete my degree, it was some of the best years of my life.”
Hear Katie’s top tips for aspiring field guides below!