A year in the life of a student arborist
Why do a placement
I’m studying for a degree in
countryside and environmental
management at Harper Adams
University, and part of the course
involves taking on a placement.
There’s a really wide choice of
locations we can apply for, but
Westonbirt was definitely the top of
my list. It was brilliant news when I
heard I’d got the placement!
What attracted you to becoming an arborist?
A passion for trees. I’m especially interested in the whole life cycle from propagation to planting, caring for and removing trees. It’s amazing the amount of work that goes into the life of a tree.
And has the placement helped in getting you closer to your dream job?
I’ve gained some important
qualifications that will all help
in my future career.
My first qualification was the
Forestry Machinery Operators
License. I’ve got tractor driving under
my belt which is awesome and I can
also do things like loading, flailing
and skidding trees.
What’s been the most interesting part of your year?
Westonbirt’s Curator Mark, knows
all there is to know about trees at
Westonbirt – I learnt so much when
I shadowed him. It was particularly
interesting to see how he makes
decisions about where and why trees
are going to be planted or removed.
So much thought and planning.
Have you learnt anything unexpected over the last 12 months?
I’ve learnt loads about different
species and identification. I’m
definitely more considered in my
decision making. Always looking at
why we are doing something, and
what will the impact be on the local
environment? I look at things with
a completely different perspective
now – I see individual trees instead
of just seeing a whole forest.
And if you were visiting the arboretum, what would be your go-to spot?
That’s really difficult to answer. It’s all impressive for different reasons,
especially because of the seasons and
amazing colours. But if I had to pick
one place that is special I would say
Maple Loop in Silk Wood.
Have you taken part in any events at Westonbirt?
I ran in the 10k on the first really hot
day of the year in my spaceman outfit!
Probably not the most sensible idea!
I finished in 58 minutes, but that’s my
days of running over.
I also represented Westonbirt at the
annual Wacky Races Go-Cart race in
Tetbury. It was great for a laugh, but
I managed to crash the vehicle four
times! Luckily Joe (the other student
arborist) kept up our reputation by
coming in second.
What are you up to next?
I’ve decided to write my Uni
dissertation on the subject of
‘alternative trees for British forestry
due to climate change’. After, I plan to
visit Canada to see different aspects
of arboriculture and forestry. I want to
experience diverse extreme climates,
which could be anything from cities
to wilderness and forests, to see
different approaches to tree care.
Finally, if there was one piece of advice you could give to the new students, what would it be?
Get stuck in from the get go
and never be afraid to ask
questions. (And watch out for Andy