The Conservation Volunteers

Amount Given:

£370,000 over three years (grant made in 2016)


Lesser known plants, animals and organisms

Katherine Whyte

Jenny Dadd,

Grants Manager, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation


We know that there is a shortage of UK environment specialists.  This project by The Conservation Volunteers enables a new generation, but with a difference.  We want their knowledge to be enthusiastically shared rather than staying in the confines of museums or universities. People skills are therefore really important as well as an ability to fill a knowledge gap identified by the sector as being of concern. 

One of the unexpected benefits of the project has been that the project mentors (specialists that have had many years working and are often close to the end of their careers) have formed close and mutually beneficial relationships with the trainees.  The learning is not all one way.  We have seen mentors become active on social media, for instance, and embrace new ways of reaching out more widely themselves.    

Amy Styles,

Natural Talent Coordinator, The Conservation Volunteers


The Natural Talent UK programme aims to combat two challenges facing the conservation sector.

The programme aims to lessen the ecological skills gap facing the UK. The programme was conceived as a response to a number of national level strategies which identified a substantial gap in ecological skills across the UK. Secondly, the programme aims to up skill trainees to make them "super employable" in the highly competitive conservation sector. Following the scheme, 92% of trainees either go onto employment in the conservation sector or go into further education.

We will be supporting 12 trainees over two years to become highly knowledgeable and skilled in species and habitat survey work.

Trainees will learn taxonomic, surveying and lab skills along with developing skills in community engagement to enable them to pass on their knowledge learned to local communities. Trainees will be learning about a number of species and habitats including: mudsnails, leafhoppers, micro moths and mud flat, grassland, heathland and shoreline habitats. The trainees will then use their skills developed within the trainee role to feed this information back and engage local communities with these uncharismatic species and habitats.

Katherine Whyte,

Natural Talent Trainee, Saline Lagoons Traineeship,  National Museums Scotland



Ullapool Pier Day

I engaged with a number of communities and groups across Scotland, teaching them about saline lagoon biology, species and their identification. I also worked at outreach events engaging local people with a variety of other poorly known species (eg. marine invertebrates, seaweeds, freshwater invertebrates, lichens). Throughout the traineeship I gained a great deal of experience and confidence in planning and delivering a range of outreach events (including talks, poster presentations, running tours/demonstrations for small groups, running stalls at big public events, etc.).