An Interview with WiseOceans…Lois Nippard from WiseOceans
This week we chat to our very own Lois Nippard and her journey to working with WiseOceans. Lois highlights the importance of starting volunteering and gaining experience as soon as possible to make you stand out from the crowd.
Name: Lois Nippard
Job Title: Marine Educator at Four Seasons Resort Seychelles
What inspired you to pursue a career in marine conservation?
Growing up in Bournemouth meant that I spent most of my childhood at the beach. I had a fascination with everything I found along the strandline and a deep-rooted desire to know what everything was. This passion was sparked again when I first went travelling. I began to truly fall in love with our blue planet. Whenever asked about my favourite travelling memories I always responded with a watery story. That’s when I knew I needed to return to education and learn as much as possible about the ocean.
What steps did you take/are you taking to achieve your career goals?
After university, I was determined to get as much experience as possible. I worked multiple jobs and volunteered for a range of organisations. It was tough but I knew I needed the experience to get that first position that would set me on the right course for the career I wanted.
How did you land your current job/position?
Where do I start? Well, prior to returning to education I worked in the travel industry for many years. During this time I worked as a travel agent, cabin crew, and for a tour company, giving me an intricate knowledge of the tourism sector. Then during the first year after university, I volunteered for the Kent Wildlife Trust in their marine team as a trainee, I volunteered in the educational team for the Marine Conservation Society, I did juvenile fish surveys with Sussex IFCA, and volunteered at events with the RSPB. I also developed a marine education program in London as part of a company’s corporate responsibility. I was highly motivated to get as much experience as possible, get involved in as many projects as I could, and gain knowledge from the marine experts. My newly acquired marine science skills coupled with an extensive knowledge of tourism I was able to take on a role educating tourists about the wonders of marine life. It was as if I was preparing myself for this job before I even knew it.
Which part of your job do you enjoy the most?
This is a very difficult question to answer. My role here is diverse and I truly enjoy all aspects of it. It’s fantastic when you can see the awe in a child’s face about how crazy and weird marine creatures can be. It’s equally as wonderful when speaking to an adult about climate change and seeing that they really want to do something to make positive changes in their life to help. But of course, I can’t leave out the fact that I thoroughly enjoy getting to go in the ocean most days!
Are there aspects of your position which make you feel that you are really ‘making a difference’?
I have spoken to many people since joining WiseOceans and that’s when I feel like I’m making a difference. I am a strong believer that any positive change, small or big, makes a real difference. And I don’t buy the argument ‘I’m just one person, so what can I do?’. So opening someone’s eyes to a problem, carefully challenging actions, and discussing solutions is when I feel I’m having a positive impact.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out?
Being able to fit a child’s mask and snorkel whilst your head is underwater, as that child, along with two others, are all holding onto you! Had to learn that skill pretty quick.
Are there any skills you never thought you would need but did?
I wish someone had told me that I needed to start volunteer work early. When leaving university, you need to have something on your CV that sets you apart. I have seen colleagues sift through a multitude of similar looking applications and CVs for marine positions. So, yours has to be the one that makes them stop and pay attention. Stand out by getting involved as much as possible.
What advice would you give to budding marine conservationists?
What is your favourite marine creature and why?
My favourite marine creature has to be the seahorse, any species in the hippocampus genus. I’ve still never seen one in the wild which is a mission of mine. I think that they are incredibly beautiful creatures and they have such great characteristics. For example, swimming in pairs with their tails linked, the males giving birth, being able to look backwards and forwards at the same time, masters of camouflage… I could go on. I find it heartbreaking that these wonderful creatures are under threat from being used in traditional Chinese medicine, sold as souvenirs, and traded in the aquarium industry. They are far too beautiful for anyone to own.
What is your most unforgettable moment in the sea?
Ah this is an easy one. When I was in Nicaragua in 2013 on a tiny island called Little Corn, I went on a night dive. Heading out on a boat to the dive site at dusk. During the night dive we saw some amazing creatures but the stand out moment was turning off all our torches and watching the phosphorescence light up around us. It was like underwater-stars. Every move made created a whirlwind of flashes, some random, some in perfect straight lines, some in spiral shapes. It was overwhelmingly spectacular. To then surface after that experience and be greeted by a blanket of stars in the sky was enough to push me over the edge into an emotional mess! Our blue planet is so magical.
Thank you Lois, for this amazing insight into your journey and experiences which led you to get your dream job with WiseOceans.
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