We learned to climb trees safely with a canopy cameraman who had worked on several of David Attenborough’s programmes!
Growing up on a farm, surrounded by sheep every day, you can’t help but become interested in biology. The breeding process fascinated me; how the first sheep’s characteristics affect the success of all the future animals in the flock. I could see the effect of genetics happening in real time on my doorstep every day. From there I developed a passion for ecology and agriculture, so I thought biology would be the best degree for me as it was broad enough to cover all of my interests.
I love being in the lab, but as someone who grew up outdoors, the best part of the course is the fieldwork. I’ve done site work in forests in Britain and a research project on Mediterranean plants and insects in Cyprus. I also had an amazing week in Scotland on a marine biology field trip to identify marine organisms. I got to go out on a fishing trawler and handled a sea anemone as big as my head! That’s the kind of real-world experience you can’t get in a classroom.
The thing that has surprised me most has been how much I’ve loved learning about life in the trees. The canopy hadn’t really been something I was interested in at all but a week’s field trip, and the enthusiasm of my lecturers, changed all that. We learned to climb trees safely with James Aldred, who was a canopy cameraman on several of David Attenborough’s programmes. He had some amazing stories – you don’t get the opportunity to work with someone like that every day. The experience was so inspirational that after I graduate I’ve decided to do an MRes on the effects of habitat fragmentation on the seed dispersal of plants in the tropical canopies of Brazil.
For me, discovery is the best word to describe my whole experience at Edge Hill. I’ve found there’s so much to discover, about myself and about the world. From one brilliant module, I’ve discovered an unexpected passion for tree climbing and for what lies undiscovered in the canopy. I’ve had opportunities I never thought I’d have while developing the abilities to do them. It’s only when you take a step back that you can see how far you’ve come.