NAME: Sam Scriven
CURRENT TITLE: Acting Earth Science Manager, Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, United Kingdom
AREA OF EXPERTISE: Geoconservation and management of geological heritage. I am particularly interested in developing heritage interpretation and public engagement on the Jurassic Coast, where I work.
YEARS OF EXPERIENCE: 11 years experience in geo-heritage conservation, education and interpretation
EDUCATION: MGeol Geology
What’s your job like?
Interesting and incredibly rewarding! Conservation requires a great deal of partnership working, so I am always meeting different people and working out ways we can collaborate. I’ve worked with artists, researching scientists, museum specialists, amateur and professional fossil collectors, schools, children and the media. There’s rarely a dull day. And if that wasn’t enough, the backdrop to it all is a natural geological wonder.
What’s a typical day like?
I don’t really have typical days, although there are always plenty of emails to deal with! In a single day, I might be responding to a planning application that might impact the geological interests of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, then working on a piece of geo-heritage interpretation for a museum or external location before scuttling off to run a training workshop for our volunteers. The team I work on tends to work at a strategic level and that is something I find interesting too. Not only do I get to be involved in the delivery, but also I steer the direction of our work.
Getting out on the coast is always fun. I also love the look on people’s faces when they get their heads around the amazing geological story that our site contains (see our website for more info on that score). Personally, though, I really love getting to grips with a new interpretation project. It’s always challenging but incredibly satisfying when you crack it.
Well, working with lots of different people is a bit of a double-edged sword. Personalities sometimes clash. Other than that, it’s the conservation issues. Conservation is challenging as it is, but it can involve very emotive issues. For instance, on the Jurassic Coast erosion is the key to the site’s integrity, exposing all the interests. That means we’re not that keen on coastal defences. When erosion starts to threaten people’s homes or property, it can lead to some difficult conversations or decisions. Having said that, it’s never as simple as ‘stones vs. homes,’ as there are a lot of economic and engineering considerations, as well as the nature conservation issues.
What’s your advice to students?
Be bold and seek out opportunities for practical experience as soon as you can. Nature conservation is a difficult sector to get into without volunteering experience. If it’s something that interests you, then get volunteering at a museum, visitors centre or local conservation trust as soon as possible. There are plenty of voluntary geoconservation groups around the world too. It’s also a fantastic industry to develop your communication skills, which is something you need to learn quickly when you are faced with 20 ten-year-old children desperate to learn about fossils!