Behind the scenes with an Earth Trust apprentice – part 1
By Beth Hall, Land Management Apprentice at Earth Trust
In September 2020 Earth Trust was delighted to welcome a new apprentice to the land management team. We’ll be following them over the next few months to find out more about what the role entails, but first we find out more about the person who got the job: meet Beth Hall.
Sitting back on the grassy bank, I welcome the warm sun on my skin as I look out over the South Oxfordshire countryside. From here, I can see the Thames winding past the Clumps and disappearing behind the thick groves of trees at Little Wittenham Wood. Humming insects are busying themselves over the wildflower meadows as they, like me, make the most of the autumnal sun. As I sit here listening to the birds, I can’t help but think about what an amazing “office” this is.
Starting my apprenticeship with the Earth Trust’s land management team has been an utterly brilliant experience so far, and is one I’m immensely grateful for. After finishing my degree in Marine and Natural History Photography earlier this year, it was hard to not feel a bit lost – especially considering the unprecedented times that we’re currently in. After dedicating three years to a certain subject (and questionably cheap alcohol), I was suddenly catapulted into the frankly terrifying “real world” of adulthood. With the whole world at your feet, it can be hard to know exactly where you should go. I love photography and filmmaking, but during my time at university I worked closely with a range of people including conservationists, rangers, and farmers, and realised that I wanted to become more closely involved in conservation. I discovered that I missed interacting with the environment as I had when I was a kid in clubs like Young Farmers’, and decided to learn more about the practical skills and knowledge it takes to manage our landscapes for the benefit of both people and wildlife.
Coming from an artistic background, an apprenticeship was the perfect place to begin as it provided an opportunity to learn whilst also taking my first steps into the industry. After 17 years in the education system, an apprenticeship where I could learn on the job and apply these skills to real situations really appealed to me. Being able to flop down on the sofa happily exhausted after spending my day outdoors getting mucky and being active gives me a real sense of satisfaction, and I can hardly describe how great it feels to be working for something that I am passionate about. My aim is to learn how to manage a working landscape which provides for the local community, promotes biodiversity and encourages wildlife. Earth Trust is a brilliant place to learn about this as we work with a variety of Farm Step Tenants to make the most of this productive environment while encouraging nature to bloom.
My first few weeks have flown by, and I have already learnt so much. There is barely a moment where I am not in awe of something. Whether it’s numerous red kites swooping low over the Wallingford castle ruins or finding newts in wood piles at the farm, there is always something I can admire and learn about right at my fingertips. It’s easy to get distracted trying to identify so many different plants, insects or birds, although my (extremely patient) colleagues are always happy to help!
The Land Management Apprentice post is supported by the Ernest Cook Trust.