Traineeship opens path to wild career for Larne girl, Orlagh

Orlagh McLaughlin from Larne is congratulated by Sheila Lyons from Ulster Wildlife and Paula Smyth from Lantra having successfully completed a year-long Nature Skills traineeship with local nature conservation charity Ulster Wildlife. (submitted picture).
Orlagh McLaughlin from Larne is congratulated by Sheila Lyons from Ulster Wildlife and Paula Smyth from Lantra having successfully completed a year-long Nature Skills traineeship with local nature conservation charity Ulster Wildlife. (submitted picture).

Achieving employment in any job is challenging in today’s current economic climate, but when it is your dream job within the environment sector, it is particularly tough.

Thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund ‘Skills for the Future Programme’, Orlagh McLaughlin, from Larne, is celebrating her success having completed a year-long paid nature skills traineeship with local nature conservation charity, Ulster Wildlife.

Throughout her action packed year Orla, alongside five other trainees, gained a wide range of specialist skills and training required to help secure a future career protecting our natural heritage, from laying hedges and controlling invasive species to monitoring coastal habitats.

The trainees also learnt to survey local wildlife from dolphins and birds to butterflies, and helped to inspire people of all ages about nature on their doorstep, from leading nature walks and education workshops within schools, to delivering several well attended snorkel safaris throughout the summer months.

As well as receiving training and mentoring in-house, the trainees undertook certified training courses, workshops with leading nature experts and for some lucky marine trainees, the opportunity to work aboard the AFBI Corystes research vessel. In between this very busy work schedule, trainees worked to achieve a new Lantra accreditation in Natural Heritage Skills.

Orlagh is now training to be a teacher, so that she can inspire the next generation about nature and marine life through environmental education. She says: “I am now confident that this is what I want to do and I feel like I have improved both my knowledge and skills by working with Ulster Wildlife to pursue a career in this field.”