Written by Lucy Hodson
Who am I?
My name’s Lucy, I’m 28 and a self-confessed hardcore nature nerd. I work full-time in communications for a large wildlife and conservation charity in the UK, and run a wildlife & nature insta-blog on the side.
The nature thing…
I’m sure many of you’ll agree that when you work with wildlife, you’re often asked how you got into it. For me, there was no choice. I’ve had ‘the nature thing’ for as long as I can remember. Call it an interest, obsession or, perhaps mostly aptly, a ‘bug’ – it’s been with me since I was old enough to hold a fistful of wriggling worms.
I grew up in the countryside, and was allowed to free-roam throughout my childhood. I had two footwear options: wellies (no socks), or barefoot. My feet were disgusting; it was brilliant. I spent my early years caked in mud, hair tangled and some sort of bug stuffed in my pockets/bucket/jar wherever I went. Many of my peers weren’t afforded the same freedom, so I soon learnt to entertain myself in the great outdoors; bug hunting, bird watching & tree climbing.
A sense of fierce protectiveness over the environment has burned within me since a young age too. I remember coming downstairs in tears, unable to sleep because King Atters had casually mentioned in a nature documentary that cheetahs might go extinct.
Nature is now everything to me. It’s all consuming; it’s the only thing I think about. I seek connections with the wildlife around me every day – whether it’s poking at some moss growing on an urban wall, or taking my bat detector to a beer garden in the evening, I want to be in nature all the time.
Working in the nature thing…
I always knew I wanted to work with wildlife and remember discovering the concept of a ‘conservationist’ when I was about 10. I was BUZZING. I made it through the standard school years of crap careers advice (my ‘what’s your dream job?’ quiz recommended I be a florist or dog groomer) and managed to find a uni that offered a Wildlife Conservation degree.
I had three years of beers and wildlife studying, followed by a year mucking around in retail, before I applied for my first job in conservation as a Visitor Experience officer on a nature reserve. Somehow I got it, and found myself planning events & leading walks on a stunning ancient woodland reserve.
After a year in the role, my contract came to an end. Unfortunately, at the same time, I found a big old lump in my neck, and was soon diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma at the age of 23. It’s funny to think about it now, but this is when my nature-nerdiness REALLY kicked in.
I had to take six months out of work for chemo; so a lot of spare time. When I didn’t feel naff, I spent as much time as possible outside and teaching myself about wildlife. It was at this point I started my wildlife blog on Insta (@Lucy_Lapwing) – using it to share photos of all the awesome stuff I spotted on my nature rambles. Birds, inverts, fungi, mosses, wildflowers – I fell in love with it ALL, all over again.
After I was given the all-clear (woohoo!), I got another job on another awesome nature reserve. I carried on happy as Larry for a couple of years, learning new skills, working with ace conservationists, and building my experience in the field.
I don’t know when it started, but slowly, over time, a sense of worry, concern and dread starting creeping into my conscience.
I couldn’t read any environmental news without feeling panic, and any time I encountered someone being flippant about climate change or biodiversity loss, I felt deep rage and sadness. I remember trying to describe my feeling to my friends at work, terming it ‘eco-dread’.
Someone thankfully coined the better term of ‘eco-anxiety’ – and it’s been a subject I’ve closely followed since. I worry about nature constantly. I cry several times a week (sometimes daily) about the state of biodiversity. When I see someone’s face grimace at an insect, or someone using bug spray, or any other hostility to nature, I often feel like all is lost.
Glow worm at the end of the tunnel…
It’s hard to come up with a happy ending to this topic. The climate and ecological emergency is so HUGE, it can seem impossible to solve. How will people change their ways? When will we stop consuming? How much more nature will we lose?
My glimmer of hope (like a glow-worm’s butt in the night) comes from the natural world itself, and the incredible people I stand shoulder-to-shoulder with in the conservation community.
No matter how anxious, stressed and down I feel, some time spent in nature always calms me – even if only a little bit. Likewise, talking about worries, hopes and fears with fellow nature nerds is an amazing soother. Sharing wild experiences and debating about conservation sets the mind alight. You’re all ace.
I’ve felt a huge injection into the climate and conservation movement in the last two years. Like a funky fungus, I really hope the spores of this energy take root and erupt into the biggest, greatest, most influential and change-making mushroom this beautiful planet has ever seen. In the meantime, I’m happy to be a provider of any advice or support any of you need. Working together, giving each other a hand up & sharing our skills is what it’s all about! Career advice or eco-anxiety venting; the door’s always open.
For more of Lucy, follow @Lucy_Lapwing on Instagram
Interesting read, let the ‘nature thing’ grow in more people soon
Thanks for sharing! Eco-anxiety is real and its easy to shut down when all you hear is bad news. I do agree that spending a little time in your favorite spot in nature is a good remedy to get out of that mindset. Yesterday I went to mine to have little walk at sunset and sat on a log until the spring peepers came out. The air was cool and after a while of being still, the birds began to call again, intertwining their notes with the the trickle of the stream I was next to. It was a pleasant mixture of sensations and it was a nice reminder that not all is lost. This little pocket of nature is still here and it made me feel whole.
Also yay for beating cancer!!
Hi! I’m an aspiring Wildlife biologist and hearing your story is very inspiring! I’m looking forward to studying wildlife biology this year for my undergrad at McGill! I also wanted to let you know that our biodiversity crisis is scary, for our future generations and animals, however I got your back! And so do many other future biologists, there will always be a new generation to follow in your footsteps in hopes of preserving our planet.
Do you by chance have any tips for me, especially for finding jobs in the market as I’ve heard it can be challenging.
All the best and don’t give up hope! I got your back!
Also please let me know if there are any volunteer positions available preferably online 🙂 I’d love to get a head start and start helping as soon as possible!
Thanks for yout work..protecting the nature is the best thing one can do..i miss my childhood home where i could run all days behind birds, flower and bugs..It’s all buildin, apartments and parks now where bugs are not welcome.. Thanks for being.. Take care
It is very difficult to feel positive about change. With worldwide pollution and Co2 levels only rising, when they’re suppose to be reducing, it seems an impossible task. With China now emitting more Co2 than all western counties combined, we’ve created an unstoppable machine.
But then, we’ve created it. We’re constantly bombarded by ads to tell us to purchase goods. From the moment we’re born, we’re told that money makes you successful so that you can buy bigger and better things.
We then have the loss of biodiversity to make way for food consumption in order to feed the ever increasing population.
Then of course if you tell people they shouldn’t do something because it harms the planet – too much meat, too many clothes, too many children (the list goes on), they then become offended and their right to do as they wish becomes the priority.
There’s a lot to change in a very short amount of time and I’m really not sure it’s possible to change it that quickly.
I was so impressed with the LW birdsong videos. I am a new kid on the block in Snettisham. I am a 62 yo (new kid, really?) who has lived in the city all my life.I now walk miles every day, listening to and trying to ID birdsong, taking photos of trees, beetles, butterflies and plants to ID. Thinking how it all interacts.Linking up with Ken Hill farm tours (rewilding). Norfolk wild trust member. Such a change to my life in 6 locked down months. Every day I can’t wait for the time to allow me out of the house (I I am still working (boo hoo) and look, listen, smell, feel nature in the raw.
Thanks Lucy Lapwing 100% in opening this bird song stuff up to me. I love it ! Really helpful. It does get frustrating personally seeing stuff or hearing it in the wild and not knowing what it is, who does it or why. Lucy’s videos are a real blessing and the best way of getting well-meaning and interested people (like me) into the cause.
Watched your piece on Winter Watch with relation to the biodiversity through the plants and wildlife. We need to be opening many more areas for this to take place if we want to keep the earth in which we live sustainable for the future generations to come. Best Wishes Jamie Sutherland
Hi. Enjoyable read! I catch your birdsong slot on BBC radio 3, on Sunday morning,……. Love it! 👍 😁. Keep up the good work, and keep spreading the word! All the best!