Hi! I am Jouke, a 25-year-old from the Netherlands with big ambitions to work in the marine conservation sector. Below you can read a little about my background and how I came about this career switch. Enjoy the blog!

Since I’ve started my studies in Earth Sciences in 2010 my love for nature grew. I learned a lot about soil mechanics, plant species, environment and animal-nature interactions.  During numerous fieldwork trips, apart from the taught subjects like morphology and geology, I remember being caught up in ecological and biological questions. It’s just that I thrive better on being outside, counting plant diversity on a 1m2 patch, than doing statistical analysis on granite rock compositions.

After finishing my MSc I went to Zambia to volunteer at an elephant orphanage project as a teacher in rural schools and to support local women groups setting up their own income. Apart from the whole experience being mindblowing and eyeopening, I remember surprising myself. With feeling no urge to pet or feed the elephants but rather wanting to give my all to change the situation of them being orphans. I’ve always been an animal lover. I’m not about keeping them, but I love to see them free – without any human interference.

During my job in the flood defenses sector as a geotechnical engineer, I was challenged and thought I enjoyed the subject enough to do it for years to come. Even though, I got burned out in the first year. In the meantime, my boyfriend and I had been to the Philippines, got our PADI diving license and had some breathtaking encounters with sea turtles. During my recovery period, I decided to follow my passion and try to go work in environmental and wildlife protection.

I quit my job and moved to Southampton to study another masters degree in Oceanography. The course subjects focussed on ecology, environmental law, a bit of biology and a lot of physical/chemical oceanography. Uni life made me realise I do not really need another degree to get where I want to be. Not the wrong direction entirely, but the longest road. Another hard decision to quit, since I left behind a valuable social life my new diving society.

Today I am back in the Netherlands, focussing on this blog, homeschooling myself in shark biology and applying for jobs in the conservation sector.