A day in the life of a National Park admin worker

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Logo: North York Moors National Park

By Nicola Startup, Volunteering Support Coordinator at the North York Moors National Park Authority

Selfie of Nicola cutting hedges in a knitted hat
Nicola out on a task (NYMNPA)

I have worked in the volunteering team at the North York Moors National Park since 2020. I returned from maternity leave during the Covid-19 pandemic - when everyone was still working from home - and although I have been at the National Park Authority for 18 years, I still had a lot to learn in my new role!

As Volunteering Support Coordinator, I am a central point of contact and offer support to our Volunteers and Volunteer Line Managers. We have over 700 regular volunteers helping us in various roles from working in our art gallery, to conducting conservation surveys, maintaining woodland sites, monitoring our dark skies, carrying out practical tasks and supporting events we organise. We work with volunteers of all ages, backgrounds and abilities and our youngest volunteers can join us with their families from the age of just four.

A typical day starts with heading to our headquarters in Helmsley after dropping my two boys off at school. The first thing I do is check my emails, teams messages, and phone calls to ensure there are no issues with any of the volunteer tasks running that day.

This is usually followed by a team ‘work together morning’, where we focus on a single, larger administrative task, such as a significant document that needs updating, or something that requires more than one of us to complete.

We have various externally-funded projects, and my role is to work with the teams to identify the support they require from volunteers. This can include creating new volunteer groups, recruiting new volunteers, creating role profiles, and then helping with tasks.

Nicola placing stones to help build a pond alongside other people
Nicola helps build a pond with the Birds on the Edge project (NYMNPA)

Recently I organised a joint task with the Birds on the Edge project team, along with our volunteers and also trustees from the North York Moors National Park Authority Trust. The aim of the project is to work with landowners to create and restore habitats to support turtle dove and other species to thrive in the North York Moors. This particular task involved creating three new ponds. The field already contained a natural dip and we used quarry bottom material to shape the feature, this included a shallow slope at one point to allow wildlife to retreat should they accidentally fall in. We used topsoil to provide a smooth surface on which we placed a layer of underlay, followed by a pond liner and a further layer or underlay on the top. These were held in place by a thin layer of gravel and the pond liner tucked under the turf around the edges.

We use a system called Better Impact to store our volunteers’ data and all our volunteer tasks are uploaded on to Better Impact so volunteers can sign up, log hours and claim mileage. They can download documents from here and also read risk assessments too.

A group of volunteers all lining up and smiling for the camera on a hillside
Volunteer supertask at Ravenscar (NYMNPA)

The best thing about my job is being able to go out and meet our dedicated volunteers. Each person has a story to tell, and a reason for volunteering with us. Whilst my role is generally office-based, I love going out to meet our groups and take part in tasks, sometimes in parts of the North York Moors that I’ve not been to before.

I first joined the National Park Authority in 2005 as a Clerical Assistant. I had just left school after taking my GCSE’s and didn’t know what I wanted to do, so instead of going to college I decided I wanted to enter the world of work.

My role was working in the Information Department helping check our annual visitor guide. My task was to call businesses within the National Park and check opening times and admission prices. I also checked and updated this information on the Park’s website.

Over the following few years my job became permanent and I started working within different departments. In Corporate Services I was answering telephone enquiries, working on the Reception Desk and organising the filing system. In Conservation I was working on our mapping system and recording data.

The National Park Authority have always been supportive with training, and since starting in 2005 I have completed various courses including an NVQ Level 3 in Business Administration and the AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) Level 2 and 3 Diploma in Accounting. The National Park Authority also operate a flexi-time system, allowing me to fulfil my role at work as well as juggling family life.

The experience I have gained from the various admin roles includes great communication and organisational skills which have been transferable between my different positions.

You can find out more about volunteering with the North York Moors National Park Authority on


First published in CJS Focus on Conservation Support Services on 16 October 2023. Read the full issue here


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Posted On: 30/09/2023

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