Straight out of university, my first work experience in nature conservation was in Ecuador. Through the national government’s environment ministry, I joined biologists as a research intern in the rainforests of Cotacachi-Cayapas Ecological Reserve. Working with local communities, we conducted environmental surveys of the area. This included mapping tree species, discussing sustainable resource use and recording illegal deforestation by outsiders. Back in the Quito office, I worked with a small team using satellite images to monitor the state of Ecuador’s nature reserves. Towards the end of this experience, I had a couple of weeks to travel through the Andes, getting to know rural areas and hike on volcanoes such as Cotopaxi, Chimborazo and Tungurahua.