Since few BTO graduates are already in the labour market, and considering that many are interested in the direction of Environmental Sciences, we have asked Rene Henkens to share his experiences in becoming an ecologist working at Alterra.
What do you do?
After graduation from the MSc. Biology specializing in Environment (1993) at the Wageningen University I had several jobs that eventually resulted in my current job as an ecologist at Alterra. After graduation I have been a tour leader at SNP Natuurreizen in Nijmegen and I worked for Stichting Brug Wageningen. This was a foundation aiming to provide new graduates with a working experience. However, being an ecologist at Alterra is my first full job. Within that I have also been seconded three times as a teacher of course in nature, recreation and tourism at the Hogeschool Delft, assistant park manager in the Hustai National Park in Mongolia (for the Foundation Reserves Przewalski Horses) and at the chair group of (what is now called) Cultural Geography aiming to support the cooperation between the University and Alterra in the field of nature, recreation and tourism. What makes me enthusiastic about my job is the freedom to set-up projects that I like. Next to my work I am a board member of Chimbo Foundation aiming to conserve the Wes-African Chimpansee in Guinee Bissau. Besides that I still support the national park in Mongolia, through research by students at Wageningen University.
Role of BTO in career development
I did not follow the BTO, as it did not exist in those days yet. However, Wageningen University and my MSc. provided me with a good basis for my current work. The MSc. was a good preparation for the job market, but it’s just a start. You still have so much to learn afterwards.
Key turning points career
I only really found out what I wanted to do during my thesis and during my work in Mongolia.
Find project in the field of nature conservation and tourism development. Currently I am involved in developing a Tourism Master Plan for the island of Sint Eustatius with the help of studies by Wageningen University.