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NATALIE

Conservation, Countryside and the Environment

I chose to study this course because I have always had a passion for the natural world and I was interested in finding out how to manage and protect wildlife in the UK.

There is a great deal of support offered to all students on the course, from my deeply invested pastoral tutor and friendly and welcoming learning support centre staff to the lovely library team.  The teaching is really engaging, and the tutors are so encouraging. I have been really impressed with the depth of knowledge and working relationships that all of our tutors have with professionals in their industries, arranging for them to give talks at the college as well as giving us contacts to arrange our work experience.

This course has provided me with a broad knowledge of the important issues relating to habitat management and conservation, such as legislation and the ecology of specific species and habitats, surveying skill,s and a great deal of practical experience; all of which employers will be looking for in a candidate.

I’ve enjoyed all of the learning activities over the last two years, including various study trips, field work and surveying in diverse places from ancient woodlands to sand dunes and local chalk streams. The highlight of the course for me was going to the beautiful Studland Bay to study coastal plants of the sand dunes and the formation and geology of the Durdle Door arch, with its breathtaking views. My other highlight was coppicing, making charcoal and tending a fire in a nearby ancient wood, as we worked well together as a group and could see the results of all our hard work at the end of the day, which was really satisfying.

My ID skills have massively improved through regular walks and species ID tests, allowing me to become more engaged with the plants and animals in the various sites where I enjoy walking and to identify species that I wish to protect in my future career. I have also learnt how to select and use the correct hand tools in practical tasks, which will enable me to undertake habitat management activities more effectively.  I really enjoyed learning how to maintain and operate a chainsaw, and developed my understanding of how useful felling trees with one can be in managing woodland for the benefit of wildlife.

For my placement, I took the opportunity to stay with family friends in Perthshire, Scotland, so I approached the local ranger service about working with them as a volunteer ranger; which is my dream position. I was lucky enough to get stuck in with lots of different activities, including supervising educational and community engagement events, monitoring red squirrels, badgers and American Mink and patrolling all five of the beautiful woodland and river habitats that the service covers. It was an unforgettable experience and gave me a good idea of what exactly would be involved in being a ranger for a wildlife organisation.

I’ll miss spending time with and having debates with my fellow students. We all got along so well as we shared a lot of the same interests and passion for what we were learning on the course.