Changing faces at NHSN

As a new year draws closer, two NHSN staff members are moving on to exciting new careers in the environmental sector.

As a new year draws closer, a number of changes are taking place at NHSN with both Reserve Ranger, James Dodsworth, and Conservation Officer, Charlotte Rankin, moving on to employment elsewhere within the environmental sector.

A familiar face at Gosforth Nature Reserve (GNR) over the last year, James has helped oversee a number of improvements at the reserve, working closely with volunteers to deliver a new welcome area and Field Station, as well as improvements to security and access. Training and supporting more Volunteer Rangers, he has ensured that all visitors to the reserve received a friendly welcome, while also assisting with habitat management, conservation and engaging young visitors at NHSN’s first Wild Weekend. Bringing to the job a fantastic attitude and passion for the reserve and its wildlife, he will be missed by NHSN volunteers, staff and members with who he has worked closely throughout 2021.

After 15 years working the Civil Engineering sector, I decided on a career change to something I hold a passion for, people and nature.

Thankfully, in April 2021, I was offered a role with NHSN as Reserve Ranger at Gosforth Nature Reserve. Within my 9 months in this role, I was able to gain valuable experience in all the important areas needed for my career development. Due to all I have learned at GNR, I have been able to take the next step in my career.

From January 2022 I will start a new role with local charity Key Enterprises, here I will be working with people who have learning disabilities and metal health problems, sharing with them my passion for nature.

James Dodsworth
James leading pond dipping at NHSN’s first Wild Weekend at GNR

Joining NHSN in 2020, Charlotte has developed NHSN’s citizen science programme, working closely with Specialist Groups and local naturalists to develop and deliver the North East Bee Hunt and North East Ladybird Spot and improve wildlife recording at GNR. Elsewhere, she has delivered a new 10-year Management Plan for Gosforth Nature Reserve and acted as lead editor for NHSN’s members’ magazine, North East Nature, helping inspire wonder in our region’s wildlife. All in addition to delivering engaging events, producing articles and supporting NHSN’s new Wildlife Monitoring Volunteers to study and record wildlife.

My role at NHSN has been a fantastic first step into an environmental career. It has been wonderful to meet so many passionate naturalists and I’ve learned so much about all aspects of North East natural history. From project development to communications and publications, it has been brilliant to be involved in so many NHSN activities.

I was employed initially to update the Reserve Management Plan for Gosforth Nature Reserve. One of my first days at the reserve was at a conservation work party. It was fantastic to see so many volunteers, many who have volunteered for years. I also dug into old annual reports and it was inspiring to see that NHSN members and volunteers have been at the heart of its protection since the very beginning.

Developing and delivering regional citizen science has been a real highlight. A big thank you to all the brilliant citizen science volunteers who have added so much to our understanding of bees and ladybirds in the region. It has been wonderful to meet so many insect enthusiasts along the way, whether that be at field trips and events or via Zoom!

In January 2022, I begin my role as a Planting for Pollinators Conservation Officer for Cumbria Wildlife Trust. Although Cumbria’s pollinators are calling, I’m not saying goodbye! I am looking forward to continuing as a volunteer Invertebrate Section Co-coordinator with Gordon Port. I hope to see many of you at invertebrate events and field trips in 2022!

Charlotte Rankin
Charlotte surveying bees at Silverlink Biodiversity Park

Both Charlotte and James joined NHSN as volunteers before securing paid employment. Charlotte, as an author of NHSN’s Bumblebees of North East England and James as a Volunteer Ranger at GNR. It was thanks to this work that they were able to join NHSN as staff members, delivering much for NHSN members and supporters.

NHSN is in a fortunate position to be able to offer volunteering opportunities to early career individuals, supporting and nurturing their talent for natural history.

It was through their volunteering efforts that both Charlotte and James secured employment with NHSN.  Thanks to their enthusiasm and commitment, and by the opportunities for growth provided by NHSN as a small, agile charity, they have grown their skills and experience. 

We are so delighted that they have both secured exciting new positions to further develop their careers and wish them the best of luck for the future.

Clare Freeman, NHSN Director

Both Charlotte and James leave a fantastic legacy at NHSN and others will now continue their great work, with volunteers and staff building on James’ work at GNR to deliver further improvements and NHSN Engagement Officer, James Common, leading in delivering NHSN’s citizen science programme. We hope that all members, volunteers and supporters will join us in wishing both all the best for the future and good luck in their new careers.

We are delighted that James and Charlotte will not lose touch entirely, with both containing to support NHSN as volunteers over the months and years ahead. Charlotte as joint coordinator of NHSN’s Invertebrate Specialist Group and James as a Volunteer Ranger at GNR.

Please keep an eye on the NHSN website and in your members’ e-news for a new ‘Nature Communicator’ role to be advertised in the New Year.