Hi there! My name is Alice and I’m the new volunteer trainee countryside ranger here at the Bath Skyline.

In 2015, I graduated from a bachelors and integrated masters in Zoology from University College London where I studied a wide range of biological disciplines, focusing on ecology, conservation and entomology. After my second year of university I undertook an internship that took me to North East China for two months, where I collected samples of ground beetles (Carabidae) across various stands of secondary woodland for a research project looking at indicator species for climate change. I spent the third year of my degree studying at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver where I was able to follow my particular interest in insects; studying their taxonomy, physiology and ecology. I remained in Vancouver for an extra couple of months to work as a field assistant on a project looking at the population dynamics of the Western Tent Caterpillar in the lower mainland of British Columbia. Returning to London for my masters year, I continued my education in ecology and conservation and carried out a research project at Queen Mary University of London in bumblebee behavioural ecology, looking at the effects of dietary nicotine on the foraging behaviour of the common social bee, Bombus terrestris.

I spent the following year and a half working on short-term contracts as a tree surveyor for the Forestry Commission, surveying oak trees across Greater London and Surrey for the caterpillars of an invasive insect pest, the oak processionary moth. During this period, I fortified my own conviction that, while I find academic research very fascinating, I much prefer to be observing nature in its native, wild habitat rather than studying it through experimental research. I decided that I wanted to take a more hands on approach to building, maintaining and protecting healthy habitats for our wildlife.

As a young person, I always loved to be outside and I grew up in an environment that encouraged lots of outdoor activities such as wild camping, nature walks, and bush craft. All of this was essential to my development as a young person and in my learning to truly love and respect nature. I believe that everyone should have a similar access to safe, fun, wild outdoor learning environments in which they can be more interactive with nature. I think that, today, one of the most important aspects of conservation is public engagement and education so that we can learn to enjoy our natural spaces and wildlife while also respecting and protecting it. I chose to work with the National Trust because I feel that they are not only dedicated to wildlife conservation but also to facilitating these kinds of learning environments for people of all ages.

I am excited to begin my training in countryside management and conservation with the National Trust and am very grateful for the opportunity to do so. I would like to share this journey with you in stories and pictures in the hope that it will not only intrigue and entertain but also inspire more people to get out into the wild outdoors, whether to learn, volunteer, or just to go for a lovely walk, and to appreciate all of the beauty and wonder that nature has to offer.