A Focus On Nature



Richard Benwell – AFON Mentor, Environmental Policy

Introducing Richard Benwell, AFON Mentor and Parliamentary Programme Manager for the RSPB.

Why did you decide to become a mentor for AFON?
The thrill of the law… the terms for a teacher… the hope in medicine… the gadgets in science… When you’re a young person choosing your path in life (or picking your way day by day), there are a thousand different options ahead. So many young people with green hearts and wildlife-filled lives end up settling for grey day jobs because of the perception that more traditional career paths are safer or more grown up. Certainly, it’s hard to get a foot on the nature jobs ladder. So, as a mentor, I hope to help one or two more young folk convert their conservation conviction into conservation career. The more people saving the world the merrier!

How have you helped/could you help potential mentees?

Not all conservation careers start with binoculars on a windy clifftop (sadly), or with a science degree. My route has been via academia, politics, policy and Parliament. It’s been fun and fascinating. I’d be glad to offer some guidance to anyone interested in environmental policy.

What’s your top piece of advice for a young person starting out their career in nature conservation?

Remember what we’re fighting for and never let it become just a job! With every career, there will be some tasks you don’t take to and some days that are difficult, but remembering we’re part of a movement keeps every day feeling positive and worthwhile. As it happens, that’s good for your state of mind and as well as your career – we’re always on the lookout for folk with the drive to make a difference. Good luck and have fun!

Flick through our mentors and find out how to apply

Mentoring, Uncategorized

Stephen Moss – AFON Mentor & Writer, Broadcaster and TV Producer

Here we have a quick chat with Stephen Moss, who’s newest book Wild Kingdom: Bringing Back Britain’s Wildlife was published last year. Stephen co-founded AFON along with Lucy McRobert and Rob Lambert in 2011-12.

You can also read about mentees’ experiences of having Stephen as a mentor from Ally and Ben.

Why did you decide to become a mentor for AFON?

When we set AFoN up Lucy had the bright idea of asking people like me to become mentors.

MossyyyHow have you helped/could you help potential mentees?

We soon found that we learned almost as much from our mentees as they did from us – it has certainly been a really satisfying and enriching experience! I think I have also been able to point them in the right direction and give them some shortcuts and the benefits of my own experience.

What’s your top piece of advice for a young person starting out their career in nature conservation?

Find someone between one and five years ahead of you in your chosen field, and ask their advice on what to do next so that you can get ahead!


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:


  • 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.


  • 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.


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:


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!

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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General Election statement: politicians and the next Government need to act Now for Nature

On World Environment Day, and in the final days before the UK General Election, we’re proud to publish this statement from young people across the UK and from some of our friends further afield. It calls on the next Parliament of MPs and the next Government to take strong action Now for Nature.

We’re so grateful to everyone who has signed this statement for us calling for the urgent action that’s needed to help the UK’s wildlife.

We’ve sent this statement to the leaders of all the main political parties:

Young people across the UK, and the world, are calling on the UK’s politicians and next Government to ensure that ambitious action is taken for wildlife and nature.

The declines of nature in the UK and beyond have never been more worrying. It is young people and future generations, as well as the natural world itself, who will deal with the consequences of these declines. As young people who care passionately about wildlife, we’re ambitious about the kind of world we want to grow up and grow old in: we want to continue to hear turtle doves purring, we would love to see beavers reintroduced across the UK and we hope that one day soon we’ll see an end to wildlife persecution and crime.

We are calling on the UK’s next Government and its next Parliament to put in place strong protections for nature, particularly as the UK leaves the European Union. The EU has, to date, provided some of the strongest protections that wildlife has in this country, notably the Birds and Habitats Directives, and these should be at least maintained if not strengthened.

The UK has also achieved success in helping wildlife independent of its EU obligations, such as the return of iconic species like the bittern and large blue butterfly. These successes could not have happened without the work of Government, NGOs and public support. We would like such achievements to continue.

But despite these protections and successes, nature continues to decline in the UK and beyond at alarming rates. This puts species at risk, but also people through damage to services that ecosystems provide us with like clean water and air, flood protection and food.

The UK is responsible for a huge number of rare and endangered species on its mainland, and particularly in its crown dependencies and overseas territories. So young people from across the world are also calling on the UK to be a leader in living up to its commitments under the Sustainable Development Goals and the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Young people in the UK who care about wildlife would like to work with politicians of any party, and the next Government to ensure that the UK’s next Parliament takes action now for nature.


Organisational Signatories:

A Focus on Nature

Bristol Nature Network

Synchronicity Earth

New Nature magazine

Wilderness Foundation UK


Wren Zoological

Change in Nature

Aberystwyth Sustainability Society

Cambridge University Nature Society

Emerging Leaders for Biodiversity, Canada

Youth for Wildlife Conservation (UK members)


National Youth Agency


Individual Signatories:

Findlay Wilde, young nature campaigner

Georgia Locock, young nature campaigner

Mya-Rose Craig

Tiffany Francis

Jennifer Garrett

James Shooter

Josie Hewitt

Chris Calow

Nicola Boulton

Holly Hucknall

Sophie Barrell

Sian Jones

Robbie Phillips

Mya Bambrick

Alex Berryman

Lucy McRobert

Adam Canning

Matt Collis

Alysia Schuetzle

Lauren Hoops

James Common

Andrew Catherall

Connie Turton

Marcus Rhodes

Caroline Collingwood

Ellen Marshall

Leanne Tough

Bryony Yates

Georgie Bray

Lucia Watts

Max Hellicar

Martin Cooper

Eleanor Morrison

Alice Banahan

Sarah Woods

Dan Rouse

Genevieve Dally

Simon Phelps

Tom Mason

Peter Cooper

Chris Kirby-Lambert

Robyn Womack

Lucy Witter

Ben Eagle

Matt Williams

Imogen Lindsay

Emily Wood

Amy Robjohns

Alice Collier


‘The Lady of the Lakes’ – A conservation story to empower women

In this post Wildlife and Filmmaking student Olivia Frost introduces her exciting project which aims to inspire people to follow in Beatrix Potter’s footsteps and become more involved with conservation.

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