The New to Nature trainees helping to wild our UK schools

August 1, 2023

Mariana and Katie have just started their journey as Project Assistants on the brand-new Wilding Schools project at SOS-UK.

Both have joined SOS-UK through the New to Nature scheme, a programme providing life-changing experiences for people who might not normally have access to a career in the environmental sector, with young people who are from an ethnic minority, who are disabled or who are from low-income homes being encouraged to apply for roles in all areas of the nature sector.

New to Nature trainees get paid a good wage for 12 months, get on the career ladder with support from an employment mentor, gain experience and boost their job prospects and build a career that protects the planet.

We are proud to be supporting them at the start of their sustainability career. Meet our trainees below.


New to Nature trainee, Mariana

I was born in the UK to first-generation immigrant parents from Portugal. Growing up I spent all of my summers in Portugal. Where we’re from is very green so I’ve always been around nature, from cultivating our own food to feeding our animals. My grandparents still make their wine and olive oil from their own crops. This experience instilled a great passion for nature within me, always seeing it as such a big part of our everyday lives. Coming back to the UK and moving to an urban area showed me how nature can be perceived differently depending on your experience. And so I knew I wanted to do something surrounding fostering that connection to nature regardless of background.

I am passionate about environmental education so when I came across SOS-UK. I knew this role was for me. I’ll be helping to recruit new schools, create social media communications, manage the database and work with the team to deliver activities. The role interests me as the project targets secondary school students, a group I’m interested in learning more about. Wilding Schools focuses on the conservation of wildlife, an area I’m familiar with but keen to learn more about.

Wilding Schools is important as it creates opportunities for students to get involved in sustainability and use their voices to implement first-hand change in their schools. It also prioritises less advantaged communities where this support is especially needed.

Being part of the New to Nature placement scheme means that I know I have that extra support in the first steps of my career and can connect with people in similar positions to me. The placement also offers a space to reflect on my areas of interest and areas I wish to develop which will help me understand what path I want to take in my life and career.


New to Nature trainee, Katie

I studied Physical Geography and did my dissertation on the many meanings of rewilding. I also previously worked in student outreach, encouraging students to be involved in the environment. I love outreach and wanted to combine work with young people and the environment.

In my new role, I’ll be helping schools to ‘wild’ 30% of their school grounds for nature by 2030. My role will involve approaching, recruiting, and onboarding new schools. This role will also involve working on wider communications and driving awareness of why Wilding Schools is important.

The Wilding Schools project is so important because it calls on schools to work together in order to bring nature back into school grounds. Schools can support the UK’s policy to protect 30% of the land and sea by 2030.

I thought this role was right for me because it gave me the opportunity to continue a passion I developed at university, and I wanted to gain first hand experience in how areas are rewilded. I also felt that SOS-UK as a whole was a good fit as I could work on student-led projects and feel a sense of accomplishment in the projects I was assisting on.

For me being a part of New to Nature gives me an opportunity to gain experience in the environmental sector. The placement also helps me to leave a world where there is a much greener future on the horizon.

I hope to get the chance to learn more about social media communications and building connections. I am most excited about the opportunity to visit schools and see their ideas come to life.

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