Having worked in information technology for many years, and growing weary of dreary offices and staring at monitor screens, I decided I wanted a change. My background was one spent outdoors working on farms and enjoying the countryside and so the decision to move to Somerset and study Countryside Management was an obvious one.
As a mature student I considered different options and as Bridgwater College had received excellent reviews I decided to choose the Level 3 Countryside Management course offered at their Cannington Centre.
During my time at College we have been on a wide range of field visits that encompass varied environments, habitats and skills. These are fascinating and help to fine-tune your career path by showing you first hand the kinds of jobs that are available as a result of studying the course.
The visits included Kilve beach and Berrow Reserve as part of Coastal Management; Loxley Wood and Bonsley Wood for charcoal burning and woodland history; WWT Steart Marshes for aquatic planting and interpretation; WWT Slimbridge for visitor management and habitats; and Westhay Moor National Nature Reserve for practical work with Somerset Wildlife Trust. These are just a flavour of the range of visits, field trips and practical work that are delivered as part of the first and second year modules. My investigative project for the course involved Deer populations and surveys – a special area of interest for myself.
One of the most significant modules on the course involves finding and undertaking a work experience placement. I received excellent support from staff at the College to help find a suitable placement. I was lucky enough to find a role with Exmoor National Park working with the Field Services Team who manage and maintain the footpaths, gates, stiles, bridges and a whole host of other features, all in the beautiful surroundings of the National Park.
It was through my studies of woodland environments and ecology that I developed a key fascination in the concept of forest schools and outdoor learning and this has led to my decision to open and run an outdoor learning business.
Key to further developing my personal skills and developing my business plan is the decision to continue my studies at Bridgwater College by enrolling on the Foundation Degree in Countryside Management. This is an obvious natural progression from the BTEC Level 3 course and with the excellent facilities and teaching staff I know it will be the best preparation for my intended career.