Roger Baker, Outdoor Learning & Ecology Manager

I joined the Oxford Trust in 2016. I love my job – it combines managing our modest patch of woodland here at the Science Oxford Centre with teaching children about the wonders of natural science. Having control over the 15 acres of outside space is such a luxury when it come to outdoor education and I am able to maximise its potential while providing a safe and engaging environment for our family and school visitors. I get to spend a lot of my day outside come rain or shine, whether it is leading a group on a pond dipping adventure, exploring the woodland, working with some volunteers to build a new set of steps or helping vaccinate badgers. No two days are ever the same!

Over the last three years, since we moved to our new site in Headington I have developed our outdoor learning programme and helped turn the previously neglected woodlands surrounding our centre into a fantastic education and ecological resource. A lot of work goes into maintaining a site like ours and I work with a great team of contractors and volunteers to keep it in good condition all year round. I also monitor the ecology on site, where possible improving the habitats and diversity while building resilience to the impacts of disease and climate change.

I find my work with the Trust very rewarding, otherwise I would not have been here for the last five years! I was lucky to have been spent much of my youth learning about nature and I am now getting the chance to work to inspire a similar love of science and the outdoors in the next generation. Science Oxford leads the way in STEM communication and I am proud to be part of the small but perfectly formed group of dedicated staff. In this role, I love to see the smiles, looks of genuine amazement and nods of understanding from the thousands of children that we engage each year.

Before working for the Trust, I did a PhD in freshwater ecology. I have spent periods working for the Environment Agency, carrying out environmental research, working as an environmental consultant and then most recently retrained as a science teacher. After several years teaching science in a secondary school I joined the education team at Science Oxford and luckily for me, the timing was perfect as the plan to develop a dilapidated environmental education centre into our new exciting science education centre was taking off. I guess I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time, but feel I have found a role that perfectly matches my skills and interests. Now I put my expertise in freshwater ecology to great use running pond dipping workshops in our own ponds!

I am very fortunate in that I love my job but, when work and family commitments allow, I also love getting outside on my mountain bike. I have ridden all over the UK and parts of Europe, when the mud gets too thick I’m quite happy to throw on a pair of trainers and go for a run instead. I have two young children who also keep me very busy. They both go to a local Headington schools, and have been regular visitors to the centre since it opened in 2019. Another big passion of mine is football. Both my son and daughter play for a local teams and this year we even have season tickets at Oxford United!

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