CCRI Placement Student 2019-2020

I’ve just started my year placement at CCRI after completing two years of my BSc in Ecology and Conservation Biology at the University of Leeds. I’ve enjoyed the mix of traditional teaching and learning through field courses in Millport (Scotland), Almeria (Spain) and Malham (North Yorkshire), all very different landscapes as you would imagine. My degree has (so far) given me a broad education of different aspects of biological and environmental sciences, but as I got further into it I found myself specialising mainly in agricultural sciences and agro-ecology. I also wanted to do something different with my degree than many of my peers who were interested in ecological consultancy and surveying. The importance of ecology in the context of agriculture is an increasingly relevant topic, and an exciting field to explore. I have developed a particular interest into the role of ecology in maintaining healthy soils and integrated farming techniques such as agro-forestry.

To further explore my interest in agro-sciences I spent the last 3 months working as a summer field trials assistant at NIAB in Cambridge, where I gained an insight into the world of field trials and arable agriculture, from vegetables to cereals. My time at NIAB gave me a plethora of new experiences from becoming a professional blackgrass counter to onion grading, to working on a combine harvester and in seed handling.

During my final year of school and my first year of university I was part of the first cohort of students in the national sustainability training program, Bright Green Future, which consisted of a series of seminars and in-person training on a variety of issues including energy production, fuel poverty, climate science and political decision making. The program also involved a 4-day residential course which included workshops by the Town and Country Planning Association. Through BGF I developed an appreciation for the importance of science communication and community engagement in environmental and sustainability issues.

In my spare time I enjoy baking, needle felting and going for walks in the countryside. During my time in Leeds, I was an active member of the Student Christian Movement, and helped to run the society in my second year.

I’m excited to start at CCRI and to learn about new aspects of sustainable agriculture and land management. I’m also looking forward to assisting in research that will hopefully help shape the future of farming in the UK, and help to integrate promotion of ecology into food production techniques.