Mentor scheme gets underway

We are really excited to welcome Jon to our mentorship programme as part of our Woodland Futures project. We caught up with Graham and John to find out more about the scheme and how things are going!


What's the aim of the mentorship scheme?

We felt like there was a gap between university and what you actually start doing when you get a job post-graduation. We want to give people a little bit of the work experience and a realistic view into what happens day to day in these kinds of jobs, and what range of jobs are out there. So people can hit the ground running when they start a new job and spend less time getting to grips with things. We'd like to do it for everyone, but we don't have the capacity, so we will start with Jon!

Cumbria Woodlands are well placed to bridge that gap and be able to help with all our partnerships and partnership working. We have the ability to offer experience in a range of roles through the work we do, our projects, and the areas that we and our partners operate in.

We're working with partners to take the mentees on for a short period of time, show them what they do, and give them a broader range of experience. So it's breadth and depth from this rather than working for a single contractor or provider.

john and graham


john and graham walking away

What are your hopes for this scheme?

So for me working with John, it would be that he finds an area that he's interested in, and finds that niche, spark or inspiration to help narrow things down and potentially find an organisation or an area of forestry that feels right. I think there are a lot of roles out there that are 'forestry adjacent' that graduates who have studied forestry or conservation have no idea exist.

How long has this been running now? What's the plan?

About a month. We went to the delivery forum which was good to hear the conversations that are being had outside of the private sector and the reality of what's happening on the ground. We've also come here today to see what's going on with Working Class Heroes' ancient woodland restoration work at Haverthwaite Heights. We'll be visiting some shows over the summer as part of the Woodland Advisory service, as well as site visits, report writing and linking up with partners to gain insight into other aspects of the woodland world.


Tell us about yourself

My name is Jon, I live in Kendal and I moved up about three years ago from London. I'm a full-time student doing Woodland Ecology and Conservation at the University of Cumbria.

So, why did you want to get into forestry/woodland ecology?

I basically wanted to get people aware of what nature can do, and how many benefits there can be, so that we can hopefully meet some of our climate targets in the future.

Did you have a career previously?

Yeah, I was working as a freelance illustrator and artist in London. I was looking into nature and the more I got into that, the more I went from trying to pursue illustration commissions to actually doing my little side projects which got me no money!

What do you enjoy about your course?

I think for me what I've really found interesting was ecosystem services and where that's leading into and how we can maybe utilise some of what nature provides anyway, as an incentive to protect landscapes rather than trying to exploit them in more destructive ways.

close up flower and moss

fox glove and new trees

Why do this kind of mentorship scheme?

I think basically trying to narrow down the routes into work and actually how I get into it. I've got my ideas of what I like, but then actually working out how that then fits into a job role in the future is where I'm seeing it.

Is the forestry world confusing?

I think it's that there's sort of a few well-defined paths and then it's like what's the sort of world around it? You've got your forestry side, commercial side, government side, legislation side, charity side and they all seem very disconnected and it's like, what's in between all those?

What might you get from this beyond your degree course?

It's hard to understand how forestry actually works nowadays. Just seeing the practicalities of actually how you do care for nature and like plant trees and where we plant trees all that stuff it's something that just because of the complexity of it you're never going to understand it necessarily in a course.

What are you hoping to get out of this process?

A better understanding of kind of where I want to sit within the forestry world. Build connections and contacts just so I can put names to faces and more experience to find out what I actually like doing

john and graham talking

Get email updates

Your details

Sign up if you'd like to receive email updates from Cumbria Woodlands. You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting us at We will treat your information with respect and process it in accordance with our privacy policy. We use Campaign Monitor as our marketing platform. By signing up, you consent to your information being transferred to Campaign Monitor for processing

© Cumbria Woodlands 2021