Anya Wicikowski

United Kingdom

About me: Having always had a love of the outdoors and nature, it was a natural step for me to start volunteering at my local nature reserve, Rutland Water at the age of 15. I was lucky enough to live just 10 minutes away from one of the most successful reintroduction projects in England, the Rutland Osprey Project; I would spend my weekends and school holidays volunteering for the project, monitoring nests and helping with school visits. It was during this time that my passion and enthusiasm for U.K. wildlife conservation really developed and grew, a common symptom of working with such iconic birds. I then decided to study Wildlife Conservation at Nottingham Trent University. The course gave me the underlying foundations to pursue a career in wildlife conservation, and also gave me experiences of scientific practices and projects; including working as a research assistant in Svalbard and completing my dissertation on breeding waders, gulls and terns.
During my time at university, I took a year in industry as a trainee at Rutland Water Nature Reserve, this involved working with the habitat teams to help manage the vastly different habitats on the reserve, as well as working with the projects team to undertake a range of wildlife surveys from bird ringing to WeBs. I also worked on the osprey project, in the visitor centre and with the volunteer coordinator. The year as a trainee gave me a full induction into every aspect of U.K wildlife conservation and really gave me the knowledge and skills to pursue a career in conservation, it also ignited my passion for ornithology and bird watching.
After university I gained a six-month role working on the RSPB Stone-Curlew Recovery Project in Salisbury, here I learnt how to communicate with a range of different audiences from farmers to the general public, allowing me to share my passion, as well as getting to monitor a charismatic U.K. species. I then went on to study an MSc in Endangered Species Recovery and Conservation; my dissertation focused on studying hedgehogs in Malawi, which later developed into my own research project and internship with Conservation Research Africa.
In 2018 I became the Osprey Project Officer at Rutland Water – a seasonal role I had aspired to since I started volunteering there. This gave me the hands-on experience of running a well-developed reintroduction project from social media to nest monitoring. I currently work for APEM, an environmental consultancy, on the ornithology team making good use of my bird knowledge and scientific skills.
Having travelled with the Osprey Leadership Foundation to The Gambia, I have seen first-hand the amazing work they have started out there, I feel very privileged to have been selected as one of the stars of the future. I’m lucky enough to have developed a range of skills and experiences over my career and hope that in the future I can devote this to a hands-on conservation project or wildlife reintroduction program.

 

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