I’ve dedicated my life to trees, but it wasn’t easy getting here. Though I’ve always been passionate about woods and the natural environment, the prospect of a rewarding and viable career wasn’t something that was immediately obvious. I had to find out for myself.

Now that I’m studying forestry at university, I’ve set up my own business to ignite conversation and highlight the opportunities for a career with trees.

Childhood escapes to the countryside

A healthy natural environment is so important for children. It’s good for their physical and mental health, and an opportunity for us to instil the need to take care of our environment. If we are to overcome the problems facing our planet, we need the young people of today to become the environmentalists of the future.

I spent my childhood in the flat and featureless agricultural landscape of the Fens. Apart from the occasional back garden or park the Fens is very much lacking in tree canopy and definitely isn’t home to any forests.

But every summer, I was able to escape to the magical landscapes of mid-Wales to stay in my grandmother’s cottage. The cottage was old, remote and without internet. Not what most people would consider a dream holiday.

It was, however, located in the heart of Snowdonia National Park, surrounded by mountains which disappeared into the clouds and forests so large that you couldn’t see the other side.

My brother and I were transported into a world where we could swim in rivers, climb trees, roll down hills and make dens in the woods. I always loved these trips – little did I know they would be the inspiration for my business some years later.

Finding my calling at secondary school

It wasn’t until I started secondary school that I realised how amazing trees are. I found myself struggling to stay focused in lessons – poetry, the French language and finding the value of X were not things I found particularly interesting. Instead, I preferred looking out of the window, watching the trees swaying in the wind – daydreaming of being back out in the glorious countryside.

It wasn’t until I started secondary school that I realised how amazing trees are. I found myself struggling to stay focused in lessons – poetry, the French language and finding the value of X were not things I found particularly interesting. Instead, I preferred looking out of the window, watching the trees swaying in the wind – daydreaming of being back out in the glorious countryside.

Then I found geography. I was captivated by it and found learning about how the world worked fascinating, especially when we got onto the topic of ecosystems. I became more and more intrigued by forests and what they did. I found out that they helped stop flooding, provided a habitat for animals, purified the air and even helped people recover from illness.

I soon decided that a 9-5 office job was out of the question for me. Instead I wanted to learn all I could about trees so that I could get a job helping to look after forests. Unfortunately, I went to a very academically orientated school, so jobs in the outdoors weren’t well understood or even encouraged.

But I was determined. I did my research and discovered I could study forestry at university. I went to an open day at Bangor University and was immediately hooked! I couldn’t think of anything better than spending the next four years of my life learning all about trees (even if my parents did take some persuading).

Becoming a forester

I started to study forestry at Bangor University three years ago and I soon became a part of a small but awesome group of like-minded students and lecturers.

But I noticed something when talking to the other foresters on my course. Like me, a lot of people didn’t know about forestry until they stumbled across it, either through internet searches or random encounters. It turned out that my school wasn’t the only one neglecting to mention that forestry was a viable and very rewarding career path.

And it really is. I’ve had the chance to go on field trips not just in Wales but across the UK to see some truly amazing forests and meet the people behind their management.

I decided I wanted to change things. Young people should be aware of the opportunities. And the environment itself would benefit from more young people working and changing things for the better. So I’ve spent the last seven months setting up my own social enterprise to do just that.

Creating new opportunities with Tree Sparks

Tree Sparks is my answer to the lack of uptake of forestry and environmental careers by young people.

I think the solution is simple – just ignite conversation about trees. Show young people how cool trees are and:

  • shine a light on the mixed and varied roles available in forestry
  • demonstrate to 15-19-year olds why forestry is important
  • emphasise that being a forester is a real-life job!

My goal is a curriculum-based environmental and forestry careers programme, which calls on the latest VR technology to bring the forest alive in the classroom. Providing lots of online resources will help students continue learning, wherever they are.

At the same time, I’m trying to help students who havealreadystarted their forestry journey. I want to help them develop their skills in a business environment, to mark them as attractive prospects for future employers by giving them chance to work for Tree Sparks.

I’m also now part of the council for the Student for Trees project, which wants to encourage more students to get involved with trees, whatever they’re studying.

Interested in a career with trees? Go for it!

I am lucky to have had contact with trees from such a young age. I want to make sure that everyone gets to experience how amazing trees are first-hand and show young people that forestry is an option – that they, in fact, can make the difference and bring real change.

I encourage everyone to just go for a walk through a forest and to let your mind wander and be amazed by the incredible trees which surround you.