Westonbirt Magazine

Autumn 2017

A year in the life of a student arborist

In July 2016, the arboretum took on two eager student arborists. Time has flown by, and a year on we ask Seth, one of the students, about his Westonbirt experience.

Why do a placement at Westonbirt?

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 Jane’s singing!).

Our next student duo are already learning the ropes. Support their work by donating.

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