Meet the Team

Meet Alexey Janes, Project Coordinator for the the Grassroots Challenge project - Ulster Wildlife's environmental youth development programme

Alexey Janes

Project Coordinator for the Grassroots Challenge

Alexey Janes

Alexey Janes

How many years have you been working in conservation? 

I was very fortunate to get my first proper conservation job when I was 23 and it had a cool title – Urban Environmental Ranger.  I spent five happy years working in Wetser Hailes in Edinburgh with school, youth and community groups doing environmental education and conservation projects.  Since then I have done a number of jobs focused on people and the environment in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Why did you choose a role in conservation?

So many reasons. From a young age I would have spent a lot of time outside with my Dad, walking down the canal, helping in the garden, taking stuff up to the allotment.  I had my own digging patch at home and through that, I got up close with plenty of mini-beasts when I was little.  There was a Young Ornithologist Club at my primary school and that is when I first became interested in bird watching.  When I was about 14, I saw a documentary about the destruction of the rain forests and this was the start of my awareness and concern about the wider environment.  I went on to study Landscape Architecture at Leeds Poly specialising in Design and Conservation.  In a nut shell, I love being outside, nature makes me smile and helping the natural world and bringing others closer to it feels like the right thing to do.

What does a typical day in your job look like?   

I have to spend quite a lot of time in meetings, writing reports, looking after budgets and supervising staff.  Every now and again, I get to go out to take part in some of the fantastic environmental youth work that is delivered through the Grassroots Challenge which is great and gives me the motivation to do the dryer and less interesting project admin stuff.

If you could write your own job title that best describes what you do, what would it be? 

Support worker for a top team of project staff.

What do you enjoy most about the work you do?

Seeing the personal growth and development that young people gain over time through their involvement with the Grassroots Challenge.  Also anything, that gets me out of the office to do wildlife related woodwork or work with trees.

What has been your proudest moment to date, since working for Ulster Wildlife?

Seeing members of our Youth Forum lead the 2020 online annual project celebration and awards event - they owned it.

What is your favourite Ulster wildlife? 

Hedgehog

What’s your most memorable wildlife encounter?

Seeing a peregrine falcon for the first time in 1982.  I was on the Isle of Hoy and it was sitting on a fence post.  At that time their numbers were a lot lower than they are today.

What are your top 3 favourite nature-related podcasts/books? 

  1. ‘Reader’s Digest Field Guide to the Trees and Shrubs of Britain.’
  2. ‘Rescue Mission Planet Earth – A children’s edition of Agenda 21’
  3. ‘Diary of a Young Naturalist’ by Dara McAnulty

What do you like doing when you are not working?

Family man, although our kids are up now.  Having just moved house at the moment its DIY, DIY followed by more DIY.  My passion outside of my day job is green woodwork.  A few years back some friends and I set up a green woodwork club and this brings me a lot of joy.

What’s your top-tip for helping wildlife? 

If you are lucky enough to have a garden, let it be a bit messy and if you can, give some of it over to wildlife completely.