Volunteering in the Outdoors with the National Trust

Family Volunteers re-chalking a white horse  ©National Trust Images / James Dobson
Family Volunteers re-chalking a white horse ©National Trust Images / James Dobson

The National Trust owns over 250,000 hectares of land and 775 miles of coastline. Our recently launched strategy outlines our ambition to restore a healthy beautiful natural environment over the next ten years, through improving the condition of our own land; working with partners on landscape scale projects; developing a new economic model for land use in the UK; and engaging people in the issues facing our environment.

Delivering this vision will require a motivated, skilled and passionate group of staff and volunteers. There are multiple ways of getting involved in volunteering with the Trust, whether you have a spare half-day or can commit to regular days. We are increasingly finding that people want more flexible volunteering opportunities to fit in with their busy lifestyles, as well as ways to develop their skills. These case studies illustrate a few examples of how volunteering has led to employment in outdoor roles with the Trust.

Will Hawkins – Assistant Ranger

Will Hawkins has a background in music and performing arts, regularly playing in bands and as a solo artist. He used his spare time in the day to pursue his interest in conservation. An initial meeting with the local team coincided with their planning for a local ‘Gig in the Garden’ festival, so Will was   instantly able to provide help, advice and contacts from his experience at other festivals. This led to him volunteering regularly and realising he wanted to work in the outdoors.

Will successfully applied for a place on the Trust’s Ranger Academy1. The Academy combines practical work experience with academic study at Reaseheath College and certified training to give students all the experience they need for a job as a Ranger. Will now works at Strangford Lough where he puts his previous performance skills to great use. He was commissioned by the Head Ranger to produce a promotional video for the launch of their new barge designed to ferry livestock and machinery to the 25 islands and extensive shoreline on the property. Will filmed and edited the footage and then played the accompanying music. You can see the video here:

Jane Lancaster ©National Trust Images / Phil Hanmer
Jane Lancaster ©National Trust Images / Phil Hanmer

Jane Lancaster – Coast and Community Ranger

Jane Lancaster used her experiences as a volunteer Working Holiday Leader to help her become a Ranger, after a 20 year career in banking. The Working Holiday2 programme is the longest running volunteering opportunity in the Trust, having started in 1967. These holidays offer a great way for people to develop their practical skills with a busy lifestyle, or indeed move on to become a leader, as Jane did. Leaders are responsible for looking after participants, ensuring everyone has a great time and working with the local Rangers on conservation tasks.

Running holidays on the Northumberland coast enabled Jane to return regularly to an area she visited as a child and gave her a head start when apply for a job with the team. The leadership, engagement and practical skills Jane learned as a Leader were instantly transferable to the Ranger’s role. You can follow Jane on Twitter (@LancasterJane13) to hear more about her life as a Ranger.

River Wey Navigations ©National Trust Images  / Chris Lacey
River Wey Navigations ©National Trust Images / Chris Lacey

Sarah Crawcour – Visitor Services Manager

Sarah Crawcour now works for the Trust as Visitor Services Manager at The River Wey Navigations in Surrey. Previously Sarah worked for the British Council, encouraging overseas students to study in the UK, but wanted a career that offered more variety. She came to the National Trust through volunteering at Marsden Moor, as part of her master’s degree in Countryside Management. She used her passion for horticulture and event management experience to help them organise their annual plant fair, which in turn led to being offered a short-term paid contract. Sarah says the people engagement and administration skills honed in her previous career are key to her success in her current role. The experience of working in a large organisation like the British Council is also useful in understanding how the various departments of the National Trust work together.

In addition to these case studies, we have a voluntary intern programme and a number of full-time volunteering opportunities. Our intern programme is designed for those people seeking a development opportunity to boost their skills and experience. Intern roles are between 3-6 months, with a maximum commitment of 22.5 hours a week. All of our intern roles have a project focus, so you finish experience having clear deliverables you can put on your C.V.

Our full-time volunteering roles are designed to give people experience of the day to day running of a site, though they may have a project element to them as well. They tend to be 6-12 months long, to enable volunteers to experience different seasonal tasks.

Volunteers working on a footpath ©National Trust Images / Rob Clarke
Volunteers working on a footpath ©National Trust Images / Rob Clarke

To find out more about the range of volunteering opportunities with the National Trust, visit our web site here3. If you can’t see what you are looking for, or you have skills to offer us that we may not have considered, please contact your local National Trust place. All of our jobs are listed on our jobs website4 – you can set up email alerts to let you know when new roles are advertised.

Editor – and of course with CJS





4 (NT Jobs website)

First published in CJS Focus on Volunteering in association with the National Trust on 24 August 2015