Kerry Ellis undertook a three week placement with Norfolk FWAG funded by the BNG Work Placements project. Here she writes about her experiences and what she gained from the placement.
I am an ecology and conservation degree student from Sparsholt College in Hampshire, in my final few months of the course with three exams remaining. I am a born and bred Norfolk girl, growing up in the Norfolk countryside means my countryside pursuits and passions are extremely deep-rooted. These include farming, shooting, deer stalking and working dogs. I never planned on leaving Norfolk however when considering my future education after school I knew I wanted to work in the countryside and being a girl I was going to need to give myself the best possible opportunities. I visited Sparsholt College to view their facilities for a Countryside game and wildlife Level three extended diploma. After seeing the high quality facilities at Sparsholt College I decided to apply, within a month of my GCSE Grades being finalised I was offered a place.
September and the new academic year arrived and me and my six month old Labrador puppy left Norfolk for Hampshire. After completing my Level three extended diploma I was advised by my tutor at the time to carry on and pursue my career in investing in the countryside by completing the ecology and conservation degree. The subjects I’ve studied in the last two years include global ecosystems, science, conservation work practice, habitat and species identification, land based ecology, countryside law and policies, conservation land management and field ecology techniques. Two years later and I’m very close to the end of my degree, as part of the degree it is essential that you find a work placement of three weeks out in the industry.
I’ve worked on a farm at home in Norfolk that my older brother also works on during busy periods and during summer for three years now and will soon be approaching my second full harvest with them. When thinking about a work experience placement I decided to look into Norfolk FWAG after doing some work with my degree group with FWAG in Hampshire putting up dormouse boxes and of course my passion for farming. I spent my three weeks with FWAG and during my time here i have worked on several Countryside Stewardship applications including visiting a couple of farms in the Brecks near Croxton. I did some work for the HLF funded project Breaking New Ground, phoning schools to try and get planting visits organised, working on the website pages to try and encourage people to monitor pinelines using an on-line recording system. I was also present at a crucial meeting with the Sandringham estate as they began work with Norfolk FWAG on their agri-environment scheme. I have learnt lots about a county I thought I knew well – the Brecks in particular is an area I didn’t know very much about before this work experience. I received some training in GIS mapping skills which I’m sure will be useful to me in my future career. Heidi and the team at Norfolk FWAG have invited me back when I have graduated for more work and to explore the possibility of a paid short-term contract.