My first 3 months in the CCRI – Katie Hickford

Katie with Matt Reed at Cheltenham Farmers’ Market

Katie Hickford is our Placement Student for 2017/18. Having completed her 2nd year studying Environmental Science at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, Katie is now completing her industrial placement sandwich year with the CCRI. Katie has written about her her first 3 months experience with the CCRI:

“I joined the team in September as the 2017-18 placement student. The time spent at CCRI will make up my industrial placement sandwich year, and then afterwards I will be returning to University East Anglia to complete my Environmental Science degree.

To date, I have been involved in a variety of different activities and projects in the CCRI. For the first few weeks I was working on some of our research projects, both EU and UK based. I was tasked with translating a document from Dutch – something which took days and resulted in some rather amusing phrases! I then helped pack envelopes as part of the Natural England interviews, plus downloaded and transferred files from one SharePoint to another. I also had training from library staff as one of my responsibilities is to upload publications to the repository.

I became involved with the Heritage Lottery Funded project ‘Foresters Forest’, first printing and compiling all the different projects that were going on, and updating project lead contact details. I then began using NVivo, to code interview transcriptions. Seeing the process through, I attended an interview with the lady in charge of overseeing all the projects, and a day of interviewing project leaders in the Forest of Dean, being chief note taker.

I also became involved a project called ‘Fair Shares’, helping my colleague run two (rather challenging) focus groups in the local area. I was in charge of notetaking and recording, and then transcribed these at a later date.

One of Katie’s cow puns used in the Twitter campaign

I am now very involved in the social media side of things, helping compose and schedule Tweets and Facebook posts. I also set up an Instagram page, helping to widen CCRI’s social media presence.

Linked to social media, I helped set up a Twitter competition in preparation for our Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Festival of Social Science event ‘Moo to You’. The competition entailed naming the cardboard cow that would be making an appearance at ‘Moo to You’, plus our other two our festival events. To be in with a chance of winning a £25 Amazon voucher, people entering the competition had to follow us and retweet the original post. I really got involved with this competition, which spanned for 10 days and resulted in 77 name suggestions. To keep promoting the event and the competition, I re-edited photos of the cow to make it relevant to e.g.: seasonal weather (cold, rain, Hurricane Ophelia), events (Guy Fawkes, Halloween, University of Gloucester graduation) and trending national days (national tripe day, national chocolate day). In total, 20 of these were created, either promoting the competition or the other two ESRC Festival events we were running at Cheltenham and Cirencester farmers’ markets. I also used cow puns and jokes to help advertise the event. This technique really boosted our social media presence, and we achieved 65,000+ impressions in the first 10 days of the competition, and a total of 87,000 by the end of October, which is almost triple what it normally is.

I then helped out Hannah Chiswell with organising the ‘Moo to You’ event, which took place in ASDA, Gloucester, on the 6th November 2017. We created some great materials, including a ‘Play Your Cards Right’ type game on milk, and cow themed activities that were handed out in around 100 goody bags that we prepared. Much time was spent creating and arranging the materials on the noticeboard that we would be using at the event – I enjoyed getting creative! The event was a success, and an interesting opportunity to get an insight to the general public’s knowledge on milk production.

Halloween themed tweet for the Moo to You campaign

Similarly, I helped out at our other two ESRC Festival 2017 events, which were organised by Matt Reed. The first of these was Cheltenham farmers’ market on 10th November, a bright (but rather brisk) day! We took along our ‘Moo to You’ materials, and other CCRI researchers were there talking about their research. Our soil expert, Jane Mills,  brought along a soil ‘Play Your Cards Right’ game and some soil samples, and I helped create some soil themed goody bags to hand out. Marco Della Gala was there demonstrating his new smartphone app, which created a lot of interest for both shoppers and stall holders. It was interesting to note that in general people at the farmers’ market were far more forthcoming in approaching our stall as compared to ASDA, perhaps having more time and the type of shopper being more interested in our research topics. A member of the ESRC came along to visit our stall at the Cheltenham market and engaged in our materials and games, which we were delighted to see.

The third and final event took place on Saturday 11th November at Cirencester famers’ market, where again we set up a stall. Despite poor weather, there was still lots of people out shopping and many stopped by to have a chat. The stall was identical to the Cheltenham one, except the soil side of things was replaced by flooding and natural flood management, hosted by Chris Short.

Overall, since I started at CCRI I’ve been up to lots of interesting and varied activities. I particularly enjoyed the ESRC Festival 2017 events – it was great to go out and engage with the public and spread the word about CCRI and the research we do. I hope to continue to make a difference to the social media side of things in the office, and use the opportunity to get in touch with my creative side.”