In 2010 I attended the Mountain Leader training at Plas-y-Brenin. During the week long course one of the instructors pointed out some cladonia species lichen to us and I was immediately intrigued by this amazing group of organisms. When it came to attending my ML assessment one of the talks I gave to the rest of the group was about lichen. I think this was representative of my growing interest in the natural world over the last few years. As I have learnt more about the environment and ecology and the challenges facing humanity I have felt drawn to try to do something positive. Beyond making small changes to the way I shop and eat and travel, I want to actually be part of the fight.
I didn’t think that was going to happen working as an IT consultant. But the question was, how could my skills and experience be put to best use?
After a fair amount of thought I decided that the way to find out would be to take a sabbatical. So, earlier this year I resigned from my full time job with the intention of exploring new opportunities.
The most favourable outcome, as far as I am concerned, would be for me to get a job working for an organisation engaged in environmental research, ecological sciences or something similar. That job may involve me making use of my skills as a Mountain Leader and working outside, either individually or with groups. It may entail lots of data analysis in Excel, SQL, R or something else. Or it may involve working with corporate partners to engage with them and the wider community to spread the message about the carbon cycle, climate change or the fresh water challenges.
Realising that my most favourable outcome may not happen and that at some point I might need to find another job I am also using this sabbatical time to upskill on Microsoft Office 2013. With a background in Microsoft Office training and support it might be necessary to approach IT companies for a job and be able to demonstrate that I am current with the latest version of Office. In addition, by setting up Carl Sprake Limited, I am able to offer myself to other companies, including CPS to do freelance consultancy and training. This earns me a few pennies while I don’t have a full time job.
Photography and Mountains
Thinking that I might have more flexibility in my time during this sabbatical, I also set out with the intention of spending more time in the mountains. This could be by myself, with my partner or leading others. I could combine this time in the mountains with my other hobby of photography.
Progress so far
So where am I now? Well, I have secured a place on a part time post graduate course that starts in September. Delivered on line by the Oxford University Department of Continuing Education the course looks at Ecological Survey Techniques. So by the end of it I should be able to design and conduct ecological surveys. The course also includes several modules on statistics, so I will be able to analyse the data as well.
I am currently volunteering as an intern for Earthwatch. My duties include collating a load of tree census data in excel, helping with the management of corporate partner teams when the do field work, and running my own project into tree transpiration.
I am also working on a number of species surveys for Shotover wildlife group and the National Plant Monitoring Scheme.
In between all of that I am doing some GIS work, studying Microsoft Office and planning to write more blog posts on overpopulation.