Ben Rogers, Trainee Ecologist at JFA, talks us through a typical working day out in the field, his sporting prowess, and why defecating snakes are the bane of his existence.
Why ecology? What attracted you to the profession?
As a student in conservation and biodiversity I’m looking to gain as much knowledge and experience as possible in every area of the industry, and the opportunity I’ve been given here at JFA has been a valuable one. The insight gained from the work I’ve taken part in has given me a greater understanding and appreciation for this sector of the industry and given me a lot of food for thought in terms of a career path. The real passion, though, comes from being out in the countryside surrounded by beautiful scenery and engaging with the wildlife in a hands-on approach. It doesn’t get much better.
Describe a typical working day (if you have one!)
A typical day involves waking up before dawn and laying there for 20 minutes whilst trying to come to terms with being conscious at that time of the day. I then invariably sit in traffic on the M20 for 40 minutes.
Once I arrive on site, I engage in a game of cat and mouse with lizards and snakes in the hopes of transferring as many of them to their new site in Maidstone. Once I’m back from the translocation part of my day, I then spend the afternoon learning Latin while putting species lists together, or working on desk studies.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
It has to be the hands-on factor of translocations, engaging with reptiles in their natural habitat and being surrounded by beautiful scenery.
What are the biggest challenges you face, in your field?Early starts and defecating snakes.
How would you characterise JFA as an organisation and what are its principal values?
In my time as a member of the team I have seen JFA display itself as a diverse and vibrant organisation that takes great care in ensuring delivery of the best possible service for their clients while maintaining a high level of responsibility when it comes to the wildlife and landscapes it deals with. As for the principles and values I can only imagine keeping the teabags stocked up is at the top of the list.
What future changes can you foresee in the ecology sector that will have a direct effect on developers?
Reptiles going on strike and refusing to make public appearances between the months of October and February, making it impossible to carry out any translocations.
What are your favourite hobbies or interests?
I have always been very sporty. I played rugby throughout my childhood years, toured in South Africa and in more recent years I have toured in Singapore and Australia. I was a little late making my comeback in time for the World Cup, but I will be ready for the next one in four years.
As well as rugby I enjoy following and occasionally training in mixed martial arts, and have a passion for the theatre. I try not to combine these last two hobbies as it can get a little messy.
If you could invite any three guests to a dinner party – alive or dead – who would you invite and why?
Alan Watts, a philosopher with a keen sense of humour and a flair for telling good stories (liked a drink too, apparently).
My fiancée, a hilarious little lady who is my best friend and someone adore (I need someone to do the dishes too).
Johnny Wilkinson, national hero and rugby legend. My fiancée loves him to bits so he’ll be a good distraction while I sit in a corner and exchange stories with Alan, drinking into the small hours of the morning.
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