The Darwin Project to Increase Local Capacity to Conserve St Helena’s Native Biodiversity runs a Level 2 diploma in Work-based Environmental Conservation (0070) which consists of work-place training and assessment, leading to a City and Guilds nationally recognised qualification, for which candidates must gain 37 credits to pass. This course aims to:
- meet the needs of learners who work or want to work in the environmental conservation sector
- allow learners to learn, develop and practice the skills required for employment and/or career progression in the environmental conservation sector
This has allowed the Darwin project to train local people to deliver habitat management and restoration work on many high priority, fragile sites namely Blue Point and High Peak which are the main sites for the Darwin Project. Units carried out as part of the diploma are:
- Monitoring and maintaining health and safety
- Maintain and develop personal performance
- Establish and maintain effective working relationships with others
- Maintain environmental good practice
- Communicate with the public and others
- Promote responsible public use of the environment
- Prepare to undertake and report on a field survey
- Conduct and report on a field survey for physical features
- Conduct and report on a field survey for habitat types
- Conduct and report on a field survey for plants
- Work with children and young people doing environmental activities
- Preparing ground for seeding and planting
- Establishing plants or seeds in soil
- Maintaining plants outdoors
- Remove unwanted plant growth to maintain development
- Construct, maintain and repair dry stone wall boundaries
- Construct, maintain and repair post and wire fence boundaries
The diploma has now been running for 3 years with a 90% success rate, with 9 out of a total of 10 candidates successfully completing the diploma. Most of which have gone on to furthering their careers in the conservation sector either on St Helena or Ascension Island.
Kenickie Andrews a former Darwin apprentice in the second round of the diploma is now on Ascension Island with the conservation department working as a Conservation Field worker on the Invasive species path clearance project. He had this to say about his experience “Doing the diploma was a fun and knowledgeable experience as well as a great start to my career in conservation”.
Marcie Benjamin also on the second round of apprentices who left the National Trust on the completion of her Diploma to have her first child said that she, “found the apprenticeship highly informative and hopes to come back and work within the National Trust.”
Martina Peters joined the apprenticeship on the second round after leaving school and is now the Trainee Project manager on the Darwin project, “I hope to continue to further my career in conservation.” Also Belinda Thomas was an apprentice on the third round of the diploma and now also works on the Darwin Project as the Nursery officer at the Millennium Forest and says “that the diploma was a great experience through which I have now found my dream job”.
Liza Fowler also continued to work within the trust as a part time education officer on the Buglife project which she thoroughly enjoys. “I would recommend the diploma to anyone who is interested in a career in conservation, as the experience was highly valuable. The field work showed me what is involved in conserving threatened/rare flora and fauna as well as having a fun time working with my team mates.”
Other apprentices include Damien Clingham and Ross Hudson who were the first to ever carry out this course and David Joshua who was one of the last. The Darwin project would like to wish all the apprentices good luck with their current and future careers and hopes that many more local people will undertake this course, through which they can contribute towards the well-being of their Island’s natural history.