The last of our Certificate Student placements in Exeter this year!
After growing up in Devon and graduating from Seal-Hayne Agricultural College in 1995, I left the South West for Northamptonshire. There I started my own business, working mainly on lakes and rivers carrying out habitat improvement and invasive weed control. I have always had an interest in ecology and felt that developing this could compliment my current business. So, I have returned as a mature student! Oh, how we used to laugh at mature students, all serious, always studying and never in the bar. I would like to say this is me now, I am trying. Last night I turned down the offer to go to the pub with old friends and went with Jess to do a bat transect instead so that’s a step in the right direction!
Since the core week on the Certificate Plus Course I have also carried out other training with Acorn, including Great Crested Newt Surveying and Development, Bat Ecology and Surveying and Beginner’s Botany. These have given me a great start, but there is no substitute for the hands-on experience the four week placement gives you. Putting what I have been taught into practice has been great.
The team in Exeter instantly made me feel welcome. We have been out surveying a lot and this is where I feel most suited. I’m not used to being in an office, but this is something I need to adapt to, as it’s an important part of the job. From day one we have been out surveying for dormice, reptiles, nesting birds and a range of bat surveys, along with preliminary ecological appraisals (PEA’s) and desk studies. It’s been busy with late nights and early mornings and reports to write in between. To get a taste of all that in a short time was what I had hoped for.
There is always something different to see, as no site is same and you meet characters on the way like a farmer who, although not that interested in bats, did want a hand putting the tyre back on his trailer. We met roofers that genuinely seemed interested in the process of removing slates carefully so as not to harm the bats that might be there, a point emphasised by the finding of a pipistrelle under the third tile they lifted.
I have wondered if this is a job I can do and from the experiences so far, the advice I have been given and continuing to gain experience I can get there. Although next time I’m down in Devon again, I can’t promise I won’t visit the odd pub with old friends!
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