BSc (Hons) Countryside Management

Campus: SRUC Elmwood and SRUC Craibstone
Class of 2020

“I have been lucky enough to have worked with some great women, but there is still little female representation in the outdoors industry, so I would love to create a space for girls to feel safe and to build on their interest of the outdoors.”

Ellie Oakley has always loved the outdoors but when she finished school, she didn’t know what she wanted to study.

After talking to a countryside ranger, the 24-year-old from Dunfermline decided to do a course in Countryside Management. 

She started on an NC course at SRUC’s Elmwood campus in Cupar, Fife, in 2014, before moving to Craibstone campus in Aberdeen to do a BSc Hons in Countryside Management and is now working as a Seasonal Ranger with the Scottish Wildlife Trust.

“From the very start of the course, there was always a huge emphasis on volunteering and gaining as much experience as possible, as well as the importance of networking,” she said. “I volunteered regularly on nature reserves and different sites all over Fife with NatureScot, RSPB, Forestry Commission and Fife and Countryside Trust during the first year of the course.

“I then took a year out to do a year’s placement with NatureScot in Dumfries, covering Southern Scotland Reserves at Caerlaverock, Kirkconnell Flow and Cairnsmore of Fleet National Nature Reserves.

“I was able to learn a lot and put what was taught in the classroom into practice. I was also able to visit and meet new people and sites as we were encouraged to visit other reserves across Scotland. I visited reserves in the Highlands, Fife, Stirling, Aberdeenshire and Shetland.”

After her year out, she decided to carry on with her studies in Aberdeen.

“During this time, I continued volunteering when I could,” she said. “I was also part of the Rural Skills Club where I volunteered with Aberdeen City Rangers, RSPB and local bat and amphibian groups.

“In addition, I worked every summer, including with Taylor Wildlife – an environmental consultancy completing ecological surveys on upland estates across Scotland – and as an Adventure Play Assistant.”

When she graduated, she was offered a post down south as an ecological surveyor. However, due to Covid-19 and lockdown restrictions, these plans fell through and she found herself starting the job hunt all over again.

“I wasn’t having much luck in finding a job in my line of work but was lucky enough to get work in a local farm shop and café, which gave me a lot of customer service experience.

“I was then surprised to hear from a job I had applied for asking me to interview for a Seasonal Ranger post. I started nearly three months ago and it’s everything I wanted and more.

“I am a Seasonal Ranger with the Scottish Wildlife Trust, based at Jupiter Urban Wildlife Centre in Grangemouth. It has been a lot of fun so far and is a great company to work for.

“My job is very varied and is different every day - that’s what I love about it. We regularly complete ecological surveys and monitoring, including bees, butterflies, moths, birds and wildflowers. We also have volunteer groups visiting twice a week to help in our wildlife gardens and reserve, and we engage with visitors to the site taking part in our self-led activities – with pond dipping a firm favourite here.

“In addition, we have school, scout, cub and brownie groups which come to the site to enjoy nature-themed activities; run our own wildlife watch group which meets once a month; and are planning on running family events as well.

“As well as all that, our social media pages get updates three times a week with pictures and information about the beautiful reserves and what wonderful things can be found there.”

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