Danielle Shorthall was at a loose end until she discovered a National Lottery funded training scheme that helped her to boost her career in conservation.
Danielle loved growing up in Northern Ireland, and had always dreamt of a career in conservation but was disappointed to discover that a biological sciences degree and a wealth of hands-on volunteering experience wasn’t enough to secure paid employment.
“I had geared everything towards this, but it seemed that there was always someone more qualified or with more experience than me. I kind of felt at a real dead end”, Danielle explains. “How am I ever going to overcome this?”
Reluctantly, Danielle considered moving away due to the lack of opportunities and the fierce competition for the few available jobs.
The turning point
It was taking part in a National Lottery funded traineeship with the Ulster Wildlife Trust that gave Danielle the skills she needed to progress to the next level of her career.
“It helped me to develop the practical skills I needed. In my past volunteer roles, the opportunities to get outside were limited, but the traineeship couldn’t have been more different. I was outside for four days each week, learning new practical skills like how to conduct surveys or maintain and protect habitats.”
A real difference
Danielle found the project boosted her confidence as well as her conservation skills. Shortly before completing the traineeship, Danielle applied for a position for which she’d previously been unsuccessful, but this time she got the job and is now a ranger at the National Trust Castle Ward estate in County Down.
“Every day here is different and I’m putting the skills I gained through the traineeship programme to good use. I’ve implemented a new butterfly and bees survey which is a first for the estate, and thanks to the traineeship I know that I can handle whatever challenges the day brings.”
Thanks to you
Danielle believes the skills learned through the National Lottery funded traineeship helped to secure her dream job: “I wouldn’t be working here now if it wasn’t for National Lottery players. I had applied for two jobs with the National Trust before and the feedback was that I wasn’t skilled enough, but all that changed as a result of the traineeship with Ulster Wildlife.
“The project has opened the door to a permanent role in conservation where I am making a real difference to natural heritage in Northern Ireland.”