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David Courtneidge

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"My favourite aspect [of the course] was the practical wildlife surveys "

David Courtneidge
FdSc Animal Conservation and BSc Animal Conservation (Top up)

I chose Hadlow college due to the location, also the combination of practical surveying practise, and pure conservation focussed modules within the course. My favourite aspect was the practical wildlife surveys and I also enjoyed completing my final dissertation, studying freshwater macroinvertebrates and their health in rivers within Kent. Another notable memory was surveying bats on the lake near the Animal Management Unit.

Following the course, I started working for London Wildlife Trust (in April 2016) after a year-long internship with Kent Wildlife Trust and a couple of years volunteering with other organisations within Kent. My current role focusses on conservation of freshwater habitats within the Greater London area. This involves undertaking habitat and species-based surveys of those sites, alongside volunteers. Then, leading practical conservation sessions with volunteers on rivers, canals, ponds and lakes.

I also sit on several Catchment Improvement Groups within London, plus I work closely with the British Dragonfly Survey on their work to survey dragonflies within the capital for which we will be producing a Guide to Dragonflies in London.

Career highlights to date have included my work to install over 280m2 of floating reedbeds within the canals of Thamesmead in SE London. These canals are entirely concrete and faced on many sides by commercial and residential buildings. After several months of debating how to improve the canals for wildlife, we decided to install a number of floating habitats within the canal system. This work was funded by the Greater London Authority and the Environment Agency and will be repeated in 2020.

If you are looking for a similar role, my advice would be to gain as much practical/vocational experience alongside your degree. Internships and placements are important for helping you understand the industry you want to work in.