A Focus On Nature

The Youth Nature Network

Join the youth conservation movement in Britain: get in contact today.

Mentoring

My Mentors: Carl Chapman and David Tipling

I’m Catherine Bullen, I work during the day as a food and product photographer but enjoy heading to the outdoors and photographing wildlife and nature when I clock off. Last year I discovered AFON and the variety of things they do. I saw the mentor scheme advertised on their website, and thought it would be a great opportunity to meet and learn from professional wildlife photographers.  I wasn’t sure what my chances would be of getting a place on the scheme, I thought something which sounds that good must be pretty competitive, but I figured if I didn’t apply then my chances of getting selected would be zero. At least if I applied I stood a chance!

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Mentoring

My Mentor: Stephen Moss

“Hi, my name’s Ally and I’ve just finished reading your book Wild Hares and Hummingbirds – I really enjoyed it”. At A Focus on Nature’s 2014 A Vision for Nature Conference, I knew I’d be really mad at myself if I didn’t say hello to Stephen Moss. Like many, I had his books on my shelves, and had re-watched his wildlife programmes many a time. I had come to the conference to meet people so I had to say hi! After a couple of chats throughout the weekend covering topics from conservation to AFON and how I hoped one day to be a nature writer, Stephen offered to be my AFON mentor – needless to say I didn’t hesitate!

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Books and Reviews

Book Review: The Way of the Hare by Marianne Taylor

Hares are not a creature I have seen an awful lot of throughout my life, but on the rare occasions I’ve spotted one, I have gazed eagerly into their wild eyes and greatly admired their speed as they sped off into the distance – it is always a delight and a real treat to see a hare. Having grown up in rural Cumbria I was surrounded by wild rabbits as a child, and I have never been one to dismiss hares as merely “big bunnies” and it has consistently frustrated me when other people have dismissed them as such.

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Books and Reviews

Book Review: Beetle Queen by M. G. Leonard

I’m sure if you are reading this review then you’ll have already read the brilliant first instalment from M.G. Leonard, Beetle Boy. If not, what are you waiting for, grab a copy from your nearest bookshop and stop reading this to avoid any spoilers.

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Uncategorized

We’re recruiting: Associate Director

Associate Director, A Focus On Nature
Job Description

Deadline: 27/08/2017

Start Date: 01/09/2017

Since its formation in 2011, A Focus On Nature has sought to encourage and connect young people aged 16 to 30 who share a passion for the natural world. Through a combination of social media, events and mentorship, AFON has connected with over 1000 young people across the United Kingdom and beyond, including aspiring conservation professionals, wildlife enthusiasts, writers, artists, photographers and poets. It has also spearheaded the Vision for Nature campaign and report, setting out young people’s vision for the natural world.

Role Description:

AFON is now recruiting for the role of Associate Director, one of the two leaders of the organisation. You will play a pivotal role in the committee, managing, inspiring and motivating Committee members to fulfil their roles to the best of their ability, support them in their roles and, in return, be supported in carrying out your own duties.

Alongside the Creative Director, you will play a key role in shaping the direction of the organisation, steering members and the committee through the coming years. You will be responsible for overseeing engagement through the organisation’s communications, mentoring and membership schemes, through partnership building and crucially through campaigning. The Associate Director will take the lead on the organisation’s ongoing Vision for Nature and Now for Nature work. This is an outstanding opportunity to develop your CV with a nationally recognised organisation, learn new skills and influence the future direction of A Focus On Nature, including campaigns, attitudes and ambitions.

Applicants must be below the age of 28 at the time of application. We ask for a date of birth to ensure this. We hope that the suitable applicant will take on the role for a period of no less than two years, and no more than three years. Please note that all roles are operated on a voluntary basis, with a small stipend available to cover expenses.

Duties & responsibilities:

Figurehead

  • To shape the direction and vision for the organisation.
  • To represent A Focus On Nature in national and local forums and with partners.
  • To support the Creative Director and other Committee members, directly managing some of them, in a responsible and achievable manner.

Relationship Management

  • To manage existing relationships with external partners and supporters.
  • To form and maintain new partnerships.
  • To motivate and inspire the committee to achieve as much as possible and to support them in their roles.
  • To make decisions that ultimately benefits the organisation in the short and long term.

Management

  • To take financial responsibility for the organisation, budgets and fundraising.
  • To assist with planning and delivering new and inspiring events for members where needed.
  • To mediate and find positive solutions for individuals and the organisation.
  • To take ultimate responsibility for ensuring the organisation complies with the law, in particular around child protection.

Project Management

– To lead AFON’s ongoing work on the Vision for Nature and Now for Nature campaigns, increasing young people’s awareness of the links between nature and politics and working to build campaigns that raise the awareness of the growing national and international youth nature movement.

Personal Attributes:

  • Demonstrable leadership skills, with ability to motivate and inspire members and partners.
  • Confidence in public-facing situations, including substantial experience in public speaking.
  • Diplomacy, mediation, discretion and empathy in tricky or delicate situations.
  • Positive person who enjoys finding solutions and new opportunities.
  • Excellent relationship management, being accessible for members and partners.
  • Ability to delegate and manage people effectively.

It is anticipated the role will require an average of 5-10 hours per week. This is usually achievable around a working day, but may require evening, weekend and very occasional weekday duties (attending conferences, events or meetings or handling press enquiries). Please do not take this lightly, particularly if it is on top of studying or an existing job. Being Director of A Focus On Nature can, at times of large workload, feel like having a second job.

Relationship:

You will sit on the Committee for A Focus On Nature. We usually take decisions in consensus, but occasionally you may have to manage differences of opinion between committee members or between the committee and yourself; however there will be instances where you and the Creative Director may be required to take strategic, sensitive or crucial decisions, and this may at times involve decision-making around the safety or wellbeing of young people or the future structure of the organisation.

Fancy it?

You’ll need to email us with a bit of information about yourself, and to answer a few questions…

We’ll need your:

Name:

Email address:

Date of birth:

And you’ll need to let us know the answers to a few key questions (Max.300 words per answer):

What has motivated you to apply for this role?

 

What do you think A Focus On Nature has achieved in the past five years?

 

What do you see as the major challenges for the organisation in the coming years and how would you take advantage of them?

 

How do your meet the criteria for being Associate Director?

 

How do you see this role benefiting your own personal aspirations?

 

How to apply:

Please submit a copy of your CV with a word document answering the questions above and stating your name, date of birth and email address to Ben Eagle at afonmembers@hotmail.com

Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed over skype by at least two members of the A Focus On Nature committee.

If you have any questions about the role, please contact Matt Williams, outgoing Associate Director. (mattadamwilliams@gmail.com)

Good luck!

Books and Reviews

Book Review: Wild Kingdom by Stephen Moss

If you want to be taken on a journey through the varied patchwork of the UK’s landscape then this book is for you. Starting the journey on the highly managed setting of the UK’s farmlands, Stephen Moss takes the reader all the way to the heady heights of rewilding – letting go of control altogether and seeing what nature does if it’s untouched.

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Issues in conservation

The Day the Beavers Returned to Cornwall

A cloudless sky is something to celebrate even in supposedly sun-soaked Cornwall. An even rarer event here is a beaver release, and for many of us involved, we played witness to the event with a sense of euphoric, almost dream-like disbelief. This was actually happening.

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Books and Reviews

Book Review: Field Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland, Third Edition

When it first appeared on our natural history bookshelves back in 2003, this fantastic book transformed moth recording and the identification of Britain’s moths. No longer was it necessary to trawl through museum photographs in hefty guides depicting pinned specimens in faded and contorted positions. Identification suddenly became so much easier and accessible to the general public, and no doubt facilitated the rapid take-off of moth recording as a widespread past-time amongst the general public.

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Issues in conservation, Uncategorized

The Mammal Society 6th Student Conference

With exams over, the first year of my degree completed, naturally I wanted to do something fun to celebrate. Whilst many of my friends had tickets to glamorous end-of-term May Balls, I had tickets to a very different event – the Mammal Society 6th Student Conference. A true nerd, I had decided to celebrate the end of my biology exams with…more biology!

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Nature Reserves, Uncategorized

The Urban Jungle

As someone interested in conservation, I am perhaps not alone in having a slight natural aversion to cities. Buses, commuters, sirens, the rat race – not really my cup of tea. Probably because I grew up far away from it in the picturesque countryside of Dumfries and Galloway. Having spent many enjoyable years exploring wild woods and ancient oaks, I suddenly found myself having to understand the urban jungle.

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