New career for nature lover Liam
A nature lover who decided he wanted to ‘make a difference’ has landed a job helping to shape the future of a county’s wildlife thanks to his university studies.
Liam Blazey, 36, decided to change his career after realising the jobs he was interested in doing asked for skills he didn’t yet have.
Now, after four years’ study at Wrexham Glyndwr University’s Northop campus studying Wildlife and Plant Biology, he has secured a role with the Council as a biodiversity officer – and is responsible for protecting and developing a wide range of species right across the county’s vast number of habitats.
He said: “Maybe because I’m slightly older than some students, and I’ve had jobs I haven’t enjoyed, a few years back I knew I wanted to make a change – I wanted to have a job where I felt like I was making a difference.
“Before I started at university, I knew I really wanted to work in the environment. I’d read job adverts and I didn’t have the skills I needed for the kinds of jobs I wanted – so I decided to start to build my CV. If I think back six years ago to now, I am a completely different person. Coming to university was the best thing I ever did – particularly Glyndwr and the Northop campus. You can’t find a campus like this anywhere else!”
While studying, Liam took a range of volunteering opportunities across North Wales which the university helped to put students in touch with - working on surveys for a range of organisations and clients. During that time, he helped to monitor and build up information about North Wales’ wildlife – experience which stood him good stead when it came to securing his current role with the council.
He added: “I had very supportive lecturers who knew a lot about their subjects and were keen to help, and I volunteered alongside knowledgeable conservationists and staff who were also very supportive. Put those two together and it really made a massive difference. I got the job just after I graduated from Glyndwr, last November. It is hard work – but I am very happy, it’s definitely been worth it.
“There is no such thing as a typical day. Over the winter, I am inside a lot more – during the summer the weather means it’s quite likely I’ll be out surveying species somewhere.
“Denbighshire’s Corporate Plan has a very progressive section on the environment which has identified five key species whose populations I have to monitor and protect in different parts of the county.
“They are the Sand Lizard, the Adder, Black Grouse, the Little Tern, and our bee populations – and I’m including all our pollinators in that! There are a number of other specialist species we have such as Dormice and Natterjack Toads which also require ongoing monitoring.
“I’m based in Loggerheads but you can find me anywhere in the county, from Gronant to Plas Newydd Gardens in Llangollen, or Llandegla all the way over to Coed y Morfa in Rhyl. I’m always looking for volunteers to come and help out at events so there’s lots of ways for people interested to get involved.”
Helping to educate people about the work being done in Denbighshire is a core part of Liam’s job – whether that is working alongside volunteers on-site, talking to schools about the county’s Bee Friendly campaign – or even returning to university to encourage others to follow in his footsteps.
He added: “It’s been interesting – I’ve already come back here to Glyndwr and given talks to let current students know about opportunities on some of the projects we’re working on in Denbighshire at the moment.
“The council is really positive when it comes to conservation – for instance, they are the first council to designate a roadside nature reserve for an animal and are only the third local authority in Wales to be awarded Bee Friendly Status. Until I got the job with them I didn’t know about everything that was going on – so now I want to tell everyone!”
Lecturer in Animal Science and Conservation at Wrexham Glyndwr University, Denise Yorke, said: “Helping students to build and develop new skills, to take those skills out into the community, and to apply them in real-life settings is at the core of what we do here at the university.
“When you combine that with some of the hundreds of opportunities we can help place students with on projects across the region studying and monitoring wildlife, it gives them a real chance to develop the skills they need for the career they want.
“Liam is the proof of that – we are delighted he has secured a crucial role boosting Denbighshire’s biodiversity, and it’s great to see his success.”