Seline Meijer

About Me...

Hello! My name is Seline, 27 years old and from the Netherlands. I studied environmental sciences and nature conservation in the Netherlands and continued with a master degree in biodiversity, conservation and management in the UK, which I finished in 2009. I have done research in Kenya, South Africa and the Azores, travelled through parts of Europe, South-east Asia and Africa and am in total admiration of what this world has to offer. I want to spend my life working in nature, with nature and for nature.
When I applied to the WWF Youth Volunteer Programme I imagined going to a far away place, somewhere tropical and remote, ready to go back-to-basics and get my hands dirty in the field. I had read stories by previous volunteers in Madagascar, Bhutan and Fiji, and I have to confess I was quite attracted to the prospect of maybe going to one of these little paradises. You’ll never guess where I ended up... Switzerland!
 / ©: WWF / Seline Meijer
Seline "in action"!
© WWF / Seline Meijer

What I have learned

Unfortunately, the Copenhagen Accord wasn’t quite what we had hoped for, but this whole experience has taught me a lot about politics, environmental treaties and their negotiations, and the role conservation organisations can play.
Coming fresh out of university with a science degree I was pretty naïve about politics. Whenever I read what some politician said about a certain topic I wouldn’t question it. Not anymore! While working in the Hot House I have gained so much more insight into how politics works, and I realise more and more that these treaties are not really being discussed in the formal UN negotiating processes but they are the outcome of formal and informal meetings and telephone calls between heads of state that you and I normally don’t hear about. In fact, you could even say that Copenhagen was not about the climate, but about finance, security, and perhaps most importantly about giving heads of state an opportunity to raise their profile and be seen as true and caring leaders.

After my placement...

After I finished my volunteer placement at International I was so lucky as to be offered an actual paid job in the Hot House for another 3 months. As I enjoyed the work with WWF tremendously, and as a recent graduate I was looking for a job in conservation, I couldn’t be happier. In 2010 we expanded our work and in addition to climate change now also focused on biodiversity issues in relation to the Year of Biodiversity and the negotiations for the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

My placement at WWF has taught me many new skills and helped me decide where I want to go in my career. I decided to go back to academia - I currently work as a PhD student at University College Dublin on agroforestry - but hopefully I can return to WWF - or another conservation organisation - and use the things I will learn at a later point in my career.
 / ©: WWF / Seline Meijer
Swiss lake
© WWF / Seline Meijer

My advice to you?

  • Take the chance and fill in the application form - but make sure to put in some thought and effort in the application. Remember, there is not a particular type of candidate WWF is looking for, everyone has a chance!
     
  • Be open to a new experience and a placement which might be different from the one you had in mind when you applied - it may take you to a place you never imagined!
     
  • Don’t be afraid to try new things and make mistakes - that is how you learn new skills.
     
  • Whatever you put into the experience determines how much you will get out of it - make the most of the opportunity given to you.
     
  • Finally: enjoy, enjoy and enjoy the experience!

Want to find out more?

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