Two years ago, Finn Giddy was working his first serious job out of high school digging trenches, unsure of his career prospects. Now, he’s the first graduate of the predator free apprenticeship programme – and his career is off to a roaring start.
Reflecting on the journey that brought him to his dream career working outdoors, Finn admits he “got lucky”.
“Some people wait years to do something they enjoy, and I was about two years out of high school, and now I do something I love.”
But it wasn’t entirely luck that led to Finn’s career with Taupō-based predator control company Call of the Wild. It’s taken a whole lot of passion and hard work.
The pathway to a career in conservation
While labouring (literally in the trenches and figuratively deciding on a future career), Finn’s name got thrown into the hat for a Jobs For Nature-funded apprenticeship at Call of the Wild. It turned out to be his ticket to a flourishing career in the conservation industry.
Finn spends his days trapping and hunting introduced predators in native bushland, forests, lakeside and the beautiful but rugged Kaimanawa Ranges. Controlling rat and possum numbers in these areas give native wildlife and plants a chance to thrive.
During the two years of his apprenticeship, he balanced the tough outdoor work with studying for a Certificate in Pest Operations, completing a hefty list of industry qualifications, plus volunteering with the local Sika Foundation, laying traplines.
Finn is the first to graduate from the Predator Free Apprentice Programme, established to increase the number of skilled predator control operators in the country. Since 2020 apprentices have been placed with various hosts around the country, learning directly from experienced pest control specialists and building nationwide capacity to help reach the goal of predator free 2050.
Learning from the best
Finn learned the ropes “from the best”, his boss, Call of the Wild director Jason Day.
“Learning the skills and knowledge that Jason has about the bush and animals, even small business-owning skills, it’s been great,” Finn says.
Learning Jason’s rigorous approach and working to a high standard Finn is using his new skills as the newly appointed second-in-command. However, he still has yet to be awarded employee of the month, getting beaten out every time by Dozer, the bull terrier dog.
Completely hooked on the work and the lifestyle the predator control industry offers, Finn is keen to keep progressing his knowledge – and sharing it with their new apprentice.
“I don’t see myself leaving any time soon. I like it here, and we’re only growing.”
Despite being initially sceptical about taking on any apprentices, Jason was so impressed with Finn he took on a second apprentice, Josh.
“It’s awesome. Finn has been a big help to us. He’s enabled us to grow the business and is a reliable and methodical staff member,” Jason says.
“He’s an asset to the industry.
“Our new apprentice, Josh, started three months ago and everything I’ve taught Finn he can now pass on and mentor Josh. He’s getting it from all angles,” he says.
Jason says the apprenticeship programme is a fantastic way to get young people into conservation careers. “It’s not everyone’s cup of tea”, so getting young people hands-on experience and seeing if they’re keen to continue is a smart pathway into the industry.
There won’t be a procession, regalia or trenchers to mark Finn’s graduation, rather the Call of the Wild whānau planned a celebratory dinner – and then they’ll crack right back into the work.