We are living in the age of capitalism. This social system with а highly developed market offers us a huge variety of products. When we are hungry we can choose from thousands of chocolates in the stores. We have millions combinations of clothes available. If we desire to buy a cellphone, books, shoes, we will realize there are different models designed by different firms. There are new workplaces and constantly the companies have a need for people with some new profession. This results in opening new fields to study in the Universities. But do we really have a huge freedom of choice regarding the question of what career to choose?
Many teenagers dream to become writers, visual artists, sociologists, teachers, philosophers, actors etc. but they are being “advised” not to follow that dream by their parents and society norms because they will either “never get a job” or have a “low income”. There are no high prized scholarships for students outside the field of computer sciences and programming. Companies don’t say they need more poets and painters.
But are these stereotypes true? Is it really hard to find a job with a diploma from Humanities and Arts? Is it really worth it, to give up your dream, only to conform yourself? And most important of all, do we really NOT have a need for these professions.
Andrej Gonev studies ecology. He and two more girls chose to study ecology this year.Ecology is a natural science, but still nobody tries to emphasize its importance. Gonev says ever since he was a high school student ecology was his hobby. He became a volunteer in the Macedonian Ecological Society where he was involved in the project of saving the Balkan Lynx (critically endangered species). Then he realized that ecology was the right profession for him.
Gonev considers ecology to be an essential branch of biology, studying the interactions between living organisms and their environment, as well as their role in the complex ecosystems. With a proper knowledge of this field, we could actively participate in saving the biodiversity (which is very rich in Macedonia) which would lead to a far more developed and healthier society.
“Human’s everyday life and its survival depends on the balance of the populations of all living species in their natural habitat. Ecology examines those relationships and offers solutions if they are disturbed. The term “ecology” itself means study of the home i.e. researching and protecting our home – the Earth in general. We, people are just another species in the nature. We have an inviolable capability to modify and arrange our natural habitat, to use the natural resources for our own survival. This capability brings with itself a huge power and responsibility over the natural balance, a balance which is crucial to be respected. We often witness the negative impact of human negligence – regardless if we speak of everyday decisions each and every one of us makes when handling our own garbage or about the clear-cut of tropical forests and their conversion into agricultural land by big corporations. Ultimately, any imbalance in nature endangers our own future” says Danka Uzunova, an employed ecologist in the Macedonian Ecological Society.
Gonev says there are many interesting study fields in ecology, but the one thing that takes his breath away is the amazing diversity of the living world. From the protozoa, the diatom algae and the huge mammals. He is fascinated by all the works of art that nature sculpted. He wouldn’t miss to mention the numerous activities outside on an open field with the Biological Students Research Society.
On the important question – what can you work with a degree in ecology, Gonevansweres that in Europe, even in Macedonia, lately there is an increase in the trend of protecting the naturalheritage, developing and promoting eco-tourism and many non-governmental organizations are fighting for this cause. Every company that wishes to build any kind of object, is legally obliged to have a hired ecologist who would assess whether the building will harm the natural environment or not.
Uzunova agrees with him – “There is always work for ecologists! As any other profession, the sooner you begin investing in it – the better. It’s important to emphasize that anybody can contribute to ecology – through monitoring of species or engaging as a volunteer in the local nature conservation organization. Such contribution is every popular and most valid around Europe and is known as“citizen science”.
My job consists of field research of birds. Discovering new bird species in Macedonia is always interesting because you know you contribute to ornithology (science of studying birds) in your country and beyond. The most unforgettable moment from doing my job was the ringing of two juvenile Egyptian Vultures in Central Macedonia. The feeling of being close to such amazing creatures and to observe the protective behavior of the adult birds and the defense techniques of the juveniles while we were working with them” she says.
Uzunova emphasizes that to be an ecologist is exciting and sometimes unpredictable. “No matter what field of ecology you choose to work in, there are several core principles of the everyday work of an ecologist – field research, consult scientific literature, adhere to basic scientific research principlesand produce unbiased and objective conclusions. Considering that almost every tree, piece of land and river around us has a potential for ecological research, the possibilities are endless” she concludes.
Andrej Gonev advises all nature lovers and all of those who admired the scientific expeditions of Darwin, to go ahead and study ecology, because they will quickly understand that “our profession sometimes looks as if it’s part of a Discovery and National Geographic documentary”.