Student Profile

Photograph of Richard Van Neste

Richard Van Neste

Graduated: BSc (Hons) Conservation and Environment
Nationality: British

Why did you choose to study at Writtle University College?
I chose to study at Writtle College over other Universities for three main reasons: the campus and site, the people, and the practical nature of the course. On my first visit to Writtle College, I was immediately taken by the beauty of the landscaped gardens of the campus and the ease of getting around the site. I got the sense that there was a friendly, inclusive family nature at Writtle College, which proved to be one of my favourite parts of the experience. And I found that my course was unique in offering a vast amount of practical experience, with the rural nature of the site lending itself to putting theory into practice.

What does Writtle University College mean to you?
When I think of my time at Writtle College, my first thought is of the friends I made who continue to be some of my closest. I had some great fun with these friends, many of them made whilst playing competitive badminton and cricket, but also the family nature of Writtle College means that, when it is necessary to get on with work, you have some wonderful “study buddies” who support you with your work. The fact that many of the courses are interrelated, such as Conservation, Design, and Agriculture, means that you can share ideas with friends in different fields. I often catch up with these friends and continue to share ideas, which provide a mutual benefit to our careers.

The family nature extends to the staff too. In particular, lecturers went out of their way to support my studies and time at Writtle College, providing course relevant opportunities beyond the normal hours of study and were always available for a chat. I even took on one of my lecturers in regular badminton games!

Study at Writtle College presented many opportunities beyond the course itself such as gaining skills to aid my future career, and to present my research at conferences.

What did you particularly enjoy about your course?
I particularly enjoyed the practical nature of the course, putting theory into practice in assignments such as ecological surveys of the Writtle College Estate. Not only was it enjoyable to get out in the field, but also the skills developed are essential in my field of conservation.

My Career Path
Past jobs and experiences:

  • 2016 to present - Youth Development Officer - Volunteer
    Ministry of Carriacou and Petite Martinique Affairs & The Ashby Windward Foundation, Grenada
    Youth engagement through sport. Fundraising and marketing for social causes. Press releases and radio interview. Procurement of sports equipment.
  • 2016 - Team Leader
    Restless Development's International Citizen Service programme (ICS), South Africa
    Leading a team of 20 young people from diverse backgrounds. Living and working in a developing country. Delivering nonformal education in fields of: sexual reproductive health/rights, gender-based violence, livelihoods. Exceeding fundraising target. Event management for 300 attendees.
  • 2014–2016 - Information Ranger
    City of London Corporation, UK
    Marketing and communications champion. Led adoption of Mailchimp newsletters, reignited social media channels, drove increased traffic to revamped website. Chaired and influenced strategic meetings.
  • 2014 Community Engagement & Learning Administrator
    London Wildlife Trust, UK
    Project management of environmental education: on time, on budget and with excellent feedback from clients. Managing staff and volunteers. Monitoring and evaluation. Conducting interviews. Working with partner organisations.
  • 2013-2014 – Membership Recruiter
    London and Kent Wildlife Trusts, UK
    Using exceptional communication skills and approachable nature to engage the public, promote the charities and to exceed recruitment targets.
  • 2013 – Woodberry Wetlands Intern
    London Wildlife Trust, UK
    Vital contribution to successful grant application of £1.5 million. Editorial role, reviewing business plan, leading community engagement workshops, establishing Mailchimp newsletter, working with partner organisations.
  • July 2011–December 2011 - Freelance Ecologist
    Contracted by Broughton Grange
  • Summer 2010 - Assistant Ecologist
    James Blake Associates, UK
    Self taught and introduced improved software to team. Writing exemplary reports for clients and conducting fieldwork.
  • Throughout 2010 - Volunteer Bat Care Rescue Coordinator
    Essex Bat Group
  • September 2008–June 2010 - Student Representative
    Writtle College
  • 2006-2008 - Volunteer Warden of Green Space
    Department of the Environment, States of Jersey
  • January 2008–September 2008 - Keeper of Birds & Volunteer
    Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Jersey
    Teamworking at a leading international conservation charity. Training and supervising staff and volunteers. Representing the NGO during tours, presentations, TV and radio interviews and at events.
My time at Writtle College was one of continuous improvement, which lecturers supported and encouraged. I left with a far greater knowledge in my field of conservation and ability to put this into practice. Writtle College also prepared me exceptionally well for Postgraduate study, providing me with the skills needed for this level of study.

My Current Job
I am currently a volunteer in Nepal with the Gorkha Development Scheme (GDS).

Future Plans
I graduated from an MSc in Conservation and Rural Development with distinction from the University of Kent in 2012 and have since been working on a draft for a publication of my postgraduate research into wildlife gardening. I am currently in the process of applying for numerous positions in conservation charities and NGOs. I plan to work for one of these organisations on a short contract until later this year when I hope to begin a PhD investigating urban environments, specifically the management of green space and wildlife gardening.