Apprentice Ranger James Masser – Q&A
Name: James Masser
Organisation: New Forest National Park
Job Role: Apprentice Ranger
Why are our green (and blue) spaces important to you and did that influence your decision to apply for this role?
I’ve always had a keen interest in ecology, conservation and wildlife. As a kid, after coming to terms that Jurassic Park wasn’t just around the corner, I focused on what we currently do have. Biology was my main focus throughout school, and I’ve had some great experiences volunteering on the UK heathlands, coasts and a few stints as a field assistant in Portugal. I’d always hoped to find a route into a career doing what I love.
What were you doing before?
I was (and still am on the occasional weekend!) working at a pub up near Guildford. Just prior I’d been doing remote IT work over the pandemic, but really wasn’t enjoying the isolating nature. I applied to this apprenticeship at the same time as the pub, knowing the pub would hire me on the spot, but having no idea I’d get both! I had two months working at the pub, making some great friends, before moving down to the New Forest for the start of the apprenticeship. It’s been an amazing experience so far!
What do you hope to achieve by the end of the project or get out of the role personally?
I’m looking to take the skills and connections I gain as part of apprenticeship as the first step in a career in conservation and education. Whether as part of the New Forest Rangers or one of the partner organisations I’m looking forward to working with I don’t know!
If people take away just one fact about the New Forest, what would you like that to be?
The New Forest is one of only two places in the UK to host Tadpole Shrimp, a living fossil with records going back nearly 400 million years. The pond in question is a closely guarded secret and everyone’s refused to tell me where it is.
What advice would you give to anyone looking to get into a green job?
Volunteer in as many different ways as you can find if you’re just starting out. The wider the net you cast out the better chance you have of finding something that you truly enjoy getting stuck into. The people you’ll meet along the way will undoubtedly hold a treasure trove of information and tips. Experience is fantastic and can often be used in lieu of qualifications if you can show how passionate you are about the subject at hand.
Try new things, even if you’re afraid!
You’re going for a day out in the Forest, what must-haves are in your bag?
Take as much water as you think you’ll need, then take some extra.
Spare biscuits, in case people get jealous.
Sun cream. Look after your skin!
A tick remover.
An encyclopedic knowledge of the closest pub at any given time.