SRUC

BSc (Hons) Countryside Management

Campus: SRUC Riverside, Ayr

"I signed up to SRUC because the Countryside Management course seemed interesting and different from anything I had ever done before. It has a mix of archaeology, biology and ecology, combined with opportunities for multiple field trips and practical experience."

Mum-of-two Sarah Jane Thomson originally studied Childcare and Social Care but after volunteering as Clyde Muirshiel in Lochwinnoch, she became interested in Countryside Management.

"I signed up to SRUC because the Countryside Management course seemed interesting and different from anything I had ever done before. It has a mix of archaeology, biology and ecology, combined with opportunities for multiple field trips and practical experience,” said the 31-year-old from Largs. “I achieved my HND in 2017 while pregnant with my daughter. I then deferred my third year and achieved my honours degree this year.”

In addition to her degree, Sarah has also been awarded the SRUC Trust Prize for the best fourth year student in Countryside Management.

Being pregnant during her course brought its challenges, as did the coronavirus pandemic.

“I was sick and tired a lot when I was pregnant,” she said. “Lecturers and supporting staff always helped me get through the course with emotional support as well as offering extensions when needed. The support of family, and the friends I had made at SRUC, also helped push me to finish that year. 

“Recently, Covid-19 has been a challenge due to working from home - especially early on when home schooling was in place. I set my son tasks and he was able to work alongside me as I did my own assessments, while the youngest was kept occupied by their dad as he was on furlough.

“When lockdown eased, having the support of others, such as family and my childminder - who was funded by SRUC - allowed me the time and peace, that I would normally have at the campus, to achieve my degree.

“The lack of practical experience during the Covid lockdown and missing out on study tours was disappointing but we celebrated me finishing my degree by having a week away seeing more of the outdoors. We visited Ben Nevis, Skye and a few places around, so it was a great way to make up for it.”

In addition to her studies, she was a member of the Conservation Society at SRUC, which maintained and improved woodland at Belleisle Park in Ayr. She also volunteered at Clyde Muirshiel and at Kelburn Estate in Fairlie.

She now hopes to find a job either as a Park Ranger or in an entry level consultancy position, but first she has her mind set on getting a driving licence.

“The licence may have to come first. Until then I will continue volunteering when I can and spend as much time as possible relaxing and having adventures with my family.”