STEM – Inspiring the Next Generation

The twin environmental crises we are facing of biodiversity loss and climate change mean that the work of those in the sector is ever more important. But the sector is often invisible to young people especially, if they lack a role model or are not aware of the opportunities available.

To address this, CIEEM have launched the Green Jobs for Nature website as part of a movement to raise awareness of the roles available, skills needed, and how to get a job in the sector.

There is a shortage of applicants for key positions especially at senior level with potential risks of delays to critical infrastructure projects. So we need to attract more young people into the sector to consider a career in ecology and environmental management.

One of CIEEM’s Strategic Goals is to ‘Champion Change’ by promoting green jobs, reaching out to young people and promoting diverse routes into the profession. The Green Jobs for Nature campaign will help progress this but with over 16 million children, young people and adults in education, this presents a great opportunity to engage with young people about the environment.

The STEM Ambassador Programme

As part of this outreach, we are working with STEM Learning to raise the profile of careers in ecology and environmental management amongst secondary school pupils to help attract more young people into the sector and to help address the future skills gap. To help us realise this, we are encouraging CIEEM members and those working in the sector, to sign up to become a STEM Ambassador to increase the representation of ecologists and environmental managers. We plan to develop some curriculum linked resources and activities that can be used when engaging with schools.

Across the UK there are over 37,000 STEM Ambassadors working with young people to raise the profile of careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). However as just 1% of these are working in the ecology and environmental management sector; our sector is vastly underrepresented. We are therefore keen to encourage more of those working in the sector, to sign up to become a STEM Ambassador.

What is a STEM Ambassador

STEM Ambassadors are positive role models who give their time and enthusiasm for free to help bring STEM subjects to life. They do this by sharing knowledge and experience to help inspire others. STEM Ambassadors work with schools, colleges, youth and community groups to inspire young people and make them aware of the range of opportunities and career pathways available.

We are keen to have STEM Ambassadors to:

  • Help encourage young people to consider a career in ecology and environmental management
  • Be a role model and help champion our sector
  • Reach out to young people and promote diverse routes into the profession

The role of a STEM Ambassador

Since September 2021, STEM Ambassadors in the sector have undertaken over 90 activities to almost 10,000 participants, volunteering over 320 hours. During this period, 271 schools have been engaged including 46 primary, 166 secondary, 20 further education and 39 others.

STEM Ambassadors:

  • Visit or host primary and secondary schools, colleges, youth and community organisations
  • Show how STEM subjects apply in the real world
  • Share knowledge and experience to help inspire others

STEM Ambassadors take part in and deliver a range of in-person and online activities including:

  • Career fairs and talks
  • Practical workshops
  • Host school trips
  • After school clubs
  • Presenting seminars to university students
  • Judge school STEM competitions
  • Speed networking sessions
  • Write blogs on STEM careers in the sector
  • Take specialist equipment into school for young people to use
  • Provide online mentoring support
  • Support with CV writing
  • Assist with mock job interviews
  • Develop curriculum resources and activities
  • Create short videos about their job to help bring it to life
  • Deliver CPD sessions for teachers to help upskill them

Who can become a STEM Ambassador?

STEM Ambassadors include people from a range of disciplines and backgrounds, who bring a new and inspiring perspective to STEM lessons and career opportunities.

Examples of current STEM Ambassadors: Ecological Consultant, Biodiversity Officer, Ecologist, Associate Ecologist, Principal Ecologist, Environmental Sustainability Leader, Director and Associate Ecologist, Senior Ecologist, Graduate Aquatic Ecologist, Principal Marine Ecologist, Environmental Project Manager and many more.

What commitment is needed?

As a STEM Ambassador you would be required to undertake at least one activity a year. Typically, many Ambassadors decide to do more, but it is based on your flexibility and what your volunteering commitment is. You can volunteer for one hour, a few hours or more, weekly or monthly to fit around your own work and home commitments. It is as flexible as you need it to be allowing you to volunteer in a way that suits you. Even if you volunteered for just one hour; that hour could inspire a young person into STEM in their future.

Benefits to you

  • Receive training and support from STEM learning
  • Free access to the Stem Ambassador Community to collaborate with others, share ideas and best practice, top tips,
  • Stem Ambassador Exclusives – a series of resources and training on diversity and inclusion, supporting special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), or exploring the teaching curriculum and career resources like the Gatsby benchmarks.
  • Support from your regional STEM Ambassador Hub
  • Meet other STEM Ambassadors at local events
  • STEM Ambassador Handbook – top tips, case studies and ideas for your projects
  • Meet others outside of the sector
  • Develop new skills and enhance existing skills
  • Gain confidence in delivering activities to groups and new audiences
  • Add experience to your CV
  • Gain valuable CPD through volunteering
  • Sense of helping others

Supporting you

There is a wealth of support for STEM Ambassadors from your local STEM hub to here at CIEEM:

  • Local STEM Ambassador Hubs help coordinate volunteering opportunities across the UK and provide a local point of contact for you where you can also meet other local Ambassadors
  • STEM Learning website has a wealth of resources including top tips, downloads and templates, induction courses
  • Regular e-newsletters and access to the online STEM Ambassador Community to connect with and chat with other Ambassadors
  • STEM Ambassador Handbook when you sign up to help you get the most of your volunteering
  • Various online training courses to help develop specific skills
  • CIEEM have a point of contact at CIEEM to support you

Could you help inspire the next generation?

  • Helping encourage young people to consider a career in ecology and environmental management
  • Being a role model and help champion our sector
  • Reaching out to young people and promote diverse routes into the profession
  • Supporting schools and colleges in delivering STEM subjects and provide real-world context

One of our members, who is a STEM Ambassador remarks that she is ’always surprised by how many teachers have never heard about ecologists. Teachers always show enthusiasm towards ecology, perhaps because ecology representation is rare at STEM ambassador network events, teachers typically comment ‘wow that’s such an interesting job, I can’t wait to share it with the students.

Click here to find out how to become a STEM Ambassador