Success Story - Tom Brown

Student - Tom Brown

22 year old Tom Brown has a lifelong passion for ecology and conservation. He is committed to working in this industry and is part way through an educational journey that has seen him travel to Africa, Europe and South America. He even had the time to find love on his travels. Here he tells his story.

After A-levels, I began a two year foundation degree in conservation at the Easton campus of Easton and Otley College. The great thing about studying and living in Norfolk is that you have an amazing variety of wildlife areas to explore.

And we did as part of my course – taking in field trips on the Broads and along our glorious coastline.

Whilst on my course, my tutor (Jerry Kinsley) advised me to get as much experience as I could. He said make yourself stand out. Get experience beyond the UK – that is what employers are looking for.

So after Easton and Otley I went to Slovakia but my first big independent trip outside of Europe saw me travel to the Amazon in Peru.

I was in the middle of the jungle for a month. The main reason I was there was to look at the bird populations but the areas with rich and diverse so I also saw giant otters, sloths, monkeys, snakes – I almost stood on a lancehead snake – fortunately someone stopped me.

It was real eye opener and if you are into conservation and ecology you have to visit the Amazon. .

After Peru, I volunteered for a company called Frontier and went to Madagascar. I funded myself – it’s not cheap but you get food and lodgings – rice and beans every day and a shed on the beach.

We did lots of survey work with a wide range of animals - birds, butterflies, lemurs for example.

Fellow volunteers were all like-minded. I even met my girlfriend Sabrina whist in Africa. She was teaching English at the time.

On coming back from Madagascar I helped my dad on the family farm during harvest and also had a stint in Cyprus looking into issues surrounding illegal bird trapping.

People are catching birds to eat over there – in particular black caps as they are a real delicacy. The problem is, other birds such as eagles and owls get trapped in the nets – it’s heart breaking.

After a year of gaining experience around the world, I then started a degree at the University of East Anglia (UEA).

At the moment I’m writing up a dissertation as I went to Brazil last summer to gain more experience working with birds in the Amazon.

I was there when the World Cup was on and saw Brazil lose to Germany on a big screen on Copacabana beach.

Now my finals aren’t that far off so there is lots of work to do. If all goes well I’ll be doing a Masters in applied ecology and conservation next year. This course will be career orientated – a bit like the course at Easton and Otley – so I will have gone full circle.

My overall aim is to work in consultancy for planning developers. It’s what my tutor Jerry used to do. He has been an inspiration. I don’t think I would have travelled as much as I have if he hadn’t advised me to do so. It’s given me a different outlook on the world and it will help me get the job that I want.