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Career Stories

Working with others in the outdoors to make a positive difference for our world

Career Stories

 

The IOL Outdoor Workforce Map will give you an idea of the different job roles in the sector, and the Training and Education Guide will help you work out what is required for a range of roles. Every employer or organisation will have their own structure and titles for their staff and preferred route into employment. Here are some career stories from across our membership. Where could the outdoors take you?

 

Cathy Harshaw

 

Cathy Harshaw

Self employed Outdoor professional

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Who are you and what does your role involve?

My name is Cathy Harshaw and I’m a self employed Outdoor professional. I run Beyond Horizons events at Universities with students studying Outdoor Education courses. Beyond Horizons is an innovative conference bringing together students, employers and professionals which aims to inspire students to make the Outdoors their career while helping them to take the next steps.

This involves bring together people from all over the industry, with expertise and experience to share, together and organising an interesting and useful conference for all that attend.

How did you get in to Outdoor Learning?

I worked in my Dad’s windsurfing school as a teenager, got a few qualifications while studying an unrelated subject at university and then got a part-time job at a large Outdoor centre once I’d finished University.

What do you love about what you do?

I love bringing people together and encouraging them to find their own path in life, be that in our diverse industry or elsewhere.

www.beyond-horizons.co.uk @Beyondhoriz

 

Suhail Zaman

 

Suhail Zaman

Outdoor Learning Youth Worker at Ashton Youth Club

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Who are you and what does your role involve?

My name is Suhail Zaman, my job at Ashton Youth Club is getting the youth involved with projects in the outdoors. There’s a lack of opportunities in our community and my job enables a platform for the young people to have experiences, such as mountaineering, rock-climbing and canoeing, that young people would not usually be exposed to. These experiences aid their personal development as it grows their leadership, team-work and communication abilities.

How did you get in to Outdoor Learning?

The youth club has been in a big part of my life: I’ve been a part of the youth club since 2015. My involvement in activities have ranged from completing the Winter Skills project 5 times which is a mountaineering expedition to the Cairgorms. I’ve also been involved with the activity days and residentials where we’ve done a range of outdoor activities. This led me to start volunteering on sessions as it was important for me to impact the young people the way my youth workers impacted me. Volunteering has opened the opportunity to me now having a full-time position at the youth club which is based around getting young people from ethnic backgrounds into the outdoors too!

What do you love about what you do?

I love the fact that no matter what you do in the outdoors there’s always a new way to connect with new people. It unites people from different races, orientations and backgrounds as you all have one common passion.

www.lindleyeducationaltrust.org/youth/

 

Matt Robinson

 

Matt Robinson

Training Director at Learning through Landscapes

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Who are you and what does your role involve?

I am Matt Robinson, Training Director of Learning through Landscapes. We focus on school grounds and local spaces, empowering school and nursery staff to lead sessions themselves. I now oversee developing our training across the UK and internationally, as well as lead our risk-management systems.

How did you get in to Outdoor Learning?

You can blame Mr Sanderson from my school in Penrith! He ran an outdoor sports PE module and sailing club at school. After qualifying as a teacher at IM Marsh I worked in Outdoor Centres, working my way up in responsibility and number of NGB awards.

I’ve now spent 20 years working in schools and outdoor centres, finally ending up teaching teachers to lead learning outdoors.

What do you love about what you do?

I just love the impact that taking learning outdoors has. I used to say that I could achieve more in a week at a residential centre than a school could in a term!

I still see teachers every week re-invigorated, inspired and re-engaged with the learning process, moving past their pre-conceived ideas that learning outdoors is somehow complex or difficult or requires significant paperwork.

www.ltl.org.uk

 

 

Richard Cook

 

Richard Cook

Instructor of Outdoor Adventure at Shuttleworth College

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Who are you and what does your role involve?

I’m Richard Cook, Instructor of Outdoor Adventure at Shuttleworth College. I work with learners 16+ on BTEC Academic Qualifications in Outdoor Adventure programs, ranging from Level 2 (GCSE equivalent) to Level 5 (Second year of degree equivalent); I predominantly focus on practical delivery but also classroom based theory lessons. The primary aim of the practical program is to develop the students into outdoor instructors to be able to work in the diverse outdoor sector. The course aims to give the students, experiences of as many areas of the outdoor sector as possible. With students going onto work in all areas of the outdoor sector for example locally with Grafham Water Centre, nationally with Hampshire Outdoor Centres and internationally with a number of students now undertaking successful careers in the Superyacht Industry. I deliver a range of activities from canoeing and kayaking to powerboating and rock climbing as well as organising residential trips both nationally and internationally.

How did you get in to Outdoor Learning?

I was in Scouting from an early age which is when I realised I didn’t want to end up working in a desk job. After A Levels I decided I’d had enough of traditional education and applied for an Outdoor Course at Pencoed in South Wales. From there I became a Trainee Instructor at Longtown OEC, then an Instructor at Outward Bound Aberdovey, before becoming the Senior Instructor for Outward Bound Bermuda. In between these posts I also worked as a casual Freelance Instructor in South Wales, as a Barman, Store Trainer for Cotswold Outdoor Retail, the Go Ape Constructions Team and as a Go Ape Rescue Trainer & Assessor.

On returning from Bermuda at the end of 2010 and looking for the next development in my career, I started working in Further Education as an outdoor instructor. Until then my highest academic qualification was a Level 3 BTEC and A Levels, but it was my vocational qualifications and experiences that counted. Once on post I worked toward a Certificate in Education (teaching qualification) alongside my teaching role. In 2015 I started working for the Bedford College Group initially delivering their outdoor provision on the Public Services course; I then went full time on the outdoor course in 2017 at Shuttleworth College where I now lead the practical program for over 100 students on Level 2 to Level 5 courses.

What do you love about what you do?

I get to coach learners over a sustained period of 1 to 5 years depending on when they join and leave us. This enable me the instruct to a much higher level than you would in many outdoor centre posts. For instance I coach learners who have never put on a climbing harness, spray deck or kill cord to a level where they can achieve a MT CWI (Climbing Wall Instructor Award), BC Core Coach (Old Level 2 Canoe Kayak Coach) or RYA Safety Boat. I also love the variety of trips we get to go on, (personally this keeps me up to date), but also seeing the learners apply skills they have learnt and then realising that they want to start a career in the outdoors because of the experiences they have with us.

https://shuttleworthcollege.wordpress.com

 

Leah Rutter

 

Leah Rutter

Centre manager at Allnatt Centres in Swanage

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Who are you and what does your role involve?

I’m Leah, I am Centre manager at Allnatt Centres in Swanage. My role is essential to ensure all health and safety aspects of a busy outdoor residential centre are adhered to. What this means is that I spend a lot of time out and about observing staff doing their jobs. I oversee all personnel from applications through to to staff development. A large part of my job role is customer service based, providing contact with groups from booking, through the visit and any follow up questions.

How did you get in to Outdoor Learning?

I trained as a teacher, during this training I volunteered to assist on all out of school activities and saw the difference in the children. When my degree finished I applied for teaching positions and Outdoor education roles as I saw the benefit of these experiences for myself. I feel lucky that I was offered roles in outdoor centres first and so have focused my career in this sector.

What do you love about what you do?

I love the energy from working with enthusiastic and engaging teaching staff, seeing and hearing the positive experiences that the young people have when staying with us. It keeps me motivated to ensure I do a great job so all those working and staying here have the best possible time.

www.allnatt.co.uk

 

Chris Wilson

 

Chris Wilson

Apprenticeship Tutor with Channel Training

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Who are you and what does your role involve?

I'm Chris Wilson and I'm an Apprenticeship Tutor with Channel Training. My job involves teaching, instructing and supporting apprentices during the 12 months of their programme. I visit and work with staff at dozens of outdoor centres across the country delivering personal skills and activity delivery training and content for the Apprenticeship, NGB training and a range of other courses. I also work with employers to develop their training programmes and their teams provide advice and guidance.

How did you get in to Outdoor Learning?

I grew up on the edge of Dartmoor and through the Scouts got the chance to participate in hiking, bushcraft and camping. This evolved into us participating in many different outdoor pursuits such as rock climbing, caving and canoeing, and eventually competing in endurance hiking events. After leaving school I worked in retail jewellery but after Joining Exeter Canoe Club I became somewhat obsessed with kayaking and spent my days off training and coaching. When there was little or no water to paddle we went rock climbing. Eventually I decided to ’take a year out’ from my career and got a job as a seasonal outdoor instructor. From there I moved to working in Dolomites in Northern Italy and a variety of seasonal outdoor instructor positions and eventually being a centre manager. I then re-trained to become an FE lecturer in Outdoor Education and managed an Adventure Activities team at an FE Collage which I did until my move to Channel Training.

What do you love about what you do?

My role with Channel provides me with opportunity to visit a lot of outdoor education and activity centres and visit some amazing locations. Most of all I love being part of the team that supports new instructors develop their skills, knowledge and experience to a point where they are competent, confident and experienced instructor. When I visit an apprentice at their centre towards the end of their training and they chat to me as a colleague / fellow instructor rather than as a tutor - they've stopped looking to me for approval... magic moments.

www.channeltraining.co.uk

 

 

 

Richard Griffiths

 

Richard Griffiths

Club & Coaching Officer for British Cycling South Region

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Who are you and what does your role involve?

My name is Richard Griffiths, and I am the Club and Coaching Officer for the British Cycling South Region. Everyday day is different in my job!

I work across a large area, with tasks ranging from the planning and delivery of practical coaching sessions for cycling and mountain biking, to assisting with the organisation of major events, planning and delivering volunteer CPD, assisting the talent development team, working with clubs and helping organisations with grant bids.

How did you get in to Outdoor Learning?

I was a secondary PE teacher before starting this role. I saw the opportunity to combine the skills I’d learnt in that role with my passion for cycling and I jumped at the chance. I love the freedom, peace of mind and the physical benefits that being outside gives, especially when on two wheels.

What do you love about what you do?

I work with people from lots of different backgrounds, and with different reasons for riding bikes. Regardless of why they are involved, I take huge satisfaction in seeing people enjoy themselves.

www.britishcycling.org.uk/education

 

Lucy Newbury

 

Lucy Newbury

Active Outdoors Programme Manager for the National Trust

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Who are you and what does your role involve?

I’m Lucy Newbury, Active Outdoors Programme Manager for the National Trust. My job is to enable, develop, promote and deliver active experiences at National Trust places. We seek to offer people opportunities to engage in the natural environment whilst being active through running, walking, cycling, water sports and more, to promote improved mental and physical health and a deeper connection with nature.

How did you get in to Outdoor Learning?

I graduated with a degree in Recreation Management from Loughborough University. My first role was with Nottingham City Council supporting schools to deliver high quality PE and outdoor education. It was a great combination of working in a support role to create opportunities for schools to develop their PE and outdoor education curriculum, but also working directly with young people giving them exposure to and confidence to be in the great outdoors. After 10 years a family relocation led me to the role at the National Trust where I took on the role of Sport Development Officer first in Shropshire and then in Nottinghamshire with a move to the national role of Active Outdoors Programme Manager in 2016.

What do you love about what you do?

Pretty much everything! I get to develop sport and outdoor experiences in the most beautiful places in the UK. I see the direct impact that the work of the Active Outdoors team has on thousands of people, as the opportunities we provide build their confidence in being active and being out in nature. I love the dynamic and ever changing projects we get to develop, influence and deliver working with amazing partners. And I guess most of all I love that I get to share my amazing work places with my family and friends who are very often the primary audience for testing our plans!

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/outdoors

 

 

 

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