May 11, 2015, by Lindsay Brooke

Nottingham students among the BBC’s top 50 ‘Conservation Heroes’.

Veterinary School student Jess French and Lucy McRobert who graduated in 2012 have joined esteemed wildlife experts and campaigners such as Jane Goodall, David Attenborough, Chris Packham and HRH Prince William on the BBC’s very first list of top conservation heros.

The BBC’s Wildlife Power List recognises people who they think will change the way we see the natural world and deliver a positive outcome for wildlife in the coming years. Among the names are street artists and bloggers as well as conservationists, scientists and campaigners. With the help of dozens of wildlife experts they narrowed down a long list of nominations. The criteria was’ influence and potential’ so the final list includes Britain’s rising stars as well as established names.

Minibeast Adventure with Jess on the new BBC TV series ‘Bugs and Little Beasties’ proves you don’t have to go all the way to Africa to have an interesting animal encounter. Jess explores the amazing creatures that live right on our doorstep. With TV credits such as Springwatch to her name Jess, now a fourth year Veterinary School student, is no stranger to broadcasting but this was the first TV series of her own. At the time Jess said: “I still want to be a vet but who knows where this may lead.” How right she was!

Professor Gary England, Dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, University of Nottingham, said: “I was delighted to see that Jess French was listed in the Wildlife Power List 2015. This list, voted on by wildlife experts, recognises the substantial positive impact made by Jess, particularly relating to her engaging TV series ‘Minibeast Adventure with Jess’. Nominations for the List, representing the most influential people in British wildlife, were also asked to consider influence and potential. I am certain that we will see much more from Jess particularly after she graduates as a veterinary surgeon from our school.”

Lucy McRobert is an environmental historian, nature writer, wildlife blogger and Creative Director of the ‘A Focus On Nature’ scheme, which seeks to encourage young people into nature conservation careers in Britain. She gained a First Class degree from The University of Nottingham. Her final year Dissertation on the nature reserve ‘ideal’ in Britain after the Second World War was awarded the Robert Mellors Prize for English History. She was also awarded the University’s Marsden Prize for best female academic performance in the Arts Faculty. Whilst an undergraduate, she was runner-up in BBC Wildlife magazine ‘Nature Writer of the Year’ competition.

She has written for Nottinghamshire Today, the Newark Herald, the Ghosts of Gone Birds international art/conservation symposium, 2020 Vision (2012) and BBC Wildlife. She is a regular guest contributor on BBC Radio Nottingham’s The Sunday Papers discussing wildlife topics, Wildlife Matters on Radio Scilly, and has participated in several short environmental documentaries. Through ‘A Focus On Nature’, Lucy is connected to many of the leading British environmental NGOs and the think-tank New Networks for Nature (N3); she is a long-term volunteer with both the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust and the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust, for whom she writes regular articles and blogs, and has been involved in a number of fundraising events and projects.

Lucy is a keen mammal watcher, and when not looking for wildlife in her home county of Leicestershire, she can be found on the north Norfolk coast, the Highlands of Scotland, the Isles of Scilly and at Rutland Water every August at the British Birdwatching Fair. Lucy is also carving a niche for herself as ‘The Café Birder’ combining her love for food and Nature! She is currently working as The Wildlife Trusts, Nature Matters Campaigns Manager.

Her former supervisor, Dr Rob Lambert, Assistant Professor in Environmental History, said: “It is wonderful to see Lucy named and profiled in BBC Wildlife magazine’s ‘The Wildlife Power List: Britain’s Top 50 Conservation Heroes’. In her final year as an undergraduate student in History, and in partnership myself and the commercial optics company Opticron, Lucy set up and became Creative Director of A Focus on Nature (AFON) a network for now over 1,000 young conservationists in the UK aged 16-30. After graduating she worked as an Outreach Officer for the LRWT/Anglian Water Rutland Water Osprey Project; was the researcher on Tony Juniper’s new book What Nature does for Britain (Profile, 2015); she writes a bi-monthly column in Birdwatch magazine;  and has appeared in the media on Springwatch Extra, BBC Nottingham; whilst still running AFON in a voluntary capacity! Lucy is now the Nature Matters Campaigns Manager for The Wildlife Trusts (RSWT) at Newark with responsibility for new campaigns such as ‘My Wild Life’ and ‘30 Days Wild’.

The full list is published in The May issue of BBC Wildlife Magazine which goes on sale on Wednesday.


Jessblog Jess French. Image courtesy of the BBC.

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