Masters Course Opens Door to Conservation Work
A Lancaster postgraduate says her Masters degree helped her secure her dream job in the competitive world of conservation.
Moira Herring completed an MRes in Science of the Environment at the Lancaster Environment Centre in 2005 after gaining her first degree in Geography at Cambridge University.
She now works as a community warden for the National Trust, based in High Wray village near Hawkshead in the Lake District where there is a “basecamp” with basic facilities for residential courses. Her work focuses on getting groups from all walks of life involved in learning about and helping to conserve the Lake District environment.
“I love living up here and it’s very rewarding to get people from cities to come up here and stay in this wooden chalet in the woods - which is just such a completely different environment for them.”
Moira, who is from Huddersfield, has been volunteering in conservation since the age of sixteen. She said the Masters degree from Lancaster was important in breaking into the sector, providing firm theoretical footings to underpin her involvement in practical conservation.
“The Masters helped put the pieces together. I got the most out of the ecology modules, especially one on the National Vegetation Classification system. Prof Rodwell, who taught it, was inspirational. After my MRes at Lancaster I got a job as an ecological consultant for a guest lecturer from the course but carried on volunteering in my spare time. I’ve always loved working with volunteers so when this job came up with the National Trust, I went for it.”
A keen climber who has been volunteering since the age of sixteen, Moira wants to share her enthusiasm for the outdoors with visiting groups which range from business executives to disadvantaged urban youths.
“We get corporate team building groups, schoolchildren, inner city kids, drug rehabilitation groups and young offenders and I do practical tasks with them like hedge laying, building dry stone walls and repairing upland footpaths as part of the Fix the Fells project.
“The emphasis is on education and learning about countryside management - and they gain a lot in understanding, but also in personal development, just from a few days here.
“Most of them say they’ve had a brilliant time working as a team and getting dirty, even the girls who start the course all dressed up. It’s nice to get them taking part in the physical work, and they’re often surprised to find how much they enjoy it.”
She said she could not imagine living anywhere else.
“Living in the Lake District is brilliant for someone like me who’s into the outdoors - I love living here because it’s great for climbing, walking and cycling, for plants and other wildlife, and for sleeping out in secluded places under the stars!”