HNC Countryside Management

Campus: Distance Learning
Class of 2014

"I’ve gone from working in an IT office with no windows, to an office with no walls - the great outdoors."

Lorna McCartney joined the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) Glasgow Conservation Volunteers in 2004 and did her first Thistle Camp (conservation working holiday) the following year. “I became a conservation volunteer because I get a lot out of the countryside through sea kayaking expeditions, cycling and walking. I was delighted to have the opportunity to give something back.”

Lorna built upon her experience and began leading projects for the Glasgow Conservation Volunteers. She then started co-leading Thistle Camps, learning a lot from camp leaders, and from the NTS training opportunities available. This lead to Lorna becoming Secretary for the Glasgow Conservation Volunteers, in turn leading to more interaction with the NTS Volunteering Department.

Lorna was enjoying her volunteering so much that she decided to do a distance learning HNC in Countryside Management at SRUC while still working full time in her day job in Information Technology. “I loved the course and found the range of subjects very relevant. The case studies were particularly enjoyable, using my volunteer experience.”

Lorna’s HNC in Countryside Management gave her more confidence in her volunteering, leading to her successfully applying for the NTS job of Seasonal Project Leader of Thistle Camps.

“I’ve gone from working in an office with no windows, to an office with no walls - the great outdoors. Undertaking the course through distance learning has allowed me to step from one job to the other, without an employment gap. It means I didn’t have to take any risks - you can work full time and study, which is great.”

She is now enjoying doing rewarding conservation work with like-minded people in beautiful parts of Scotland. “This year we’re running 80 Thistle Camps, which is the most we’ve ever done. The camps are made up of 12 people working alongside rangers or gardeners on NTS properties. There’s loads of activities to volunteer for - bat surveys, footpath work to combat erosion, woodland management tasks including tree planting, non-native tree clearance and bracken clearance, gardening and more.”

Lorna encourages anyone interested in conservation volunteering to check the NTS website. Activities range from a day on the weekend, to a camp, and you will join an enthusiastic group of people and learn great skills.

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