Thirty nine year old Mark Wratten from Weymouth had always had an interest in the outdoors, so when he decided he wanted a change in career direction he looked into pathways into working in the countryside whilst getting qualified.
Previously Mark had worked in diverse roles including bar manager and contract cleaner, but having always had a keen interest in the outdoors he decided to work in what he enjoys most and chose to study the Level 3 Diploma in Countryside and Wildlife Management at Kingston Maurward College.
He wanted to get involved in something he could be passionate about and the course ticked the box for him: subjects ranged from habitats, heathlands, woodlands, the coat, estate skills, fencing, driving tractors, chainsaw modules, and archaeology, especially related to Dorset.
Students were also given the opportunity to gain NPTC chainsaw qualifications, CS30, brushcutters & strimmers, and basic tractors MO1 – which are valid for life.
Mark said: “The thing I enjoyed most was meeting new people – being a mature student it was very unnerving going to college where most people were a lot younger than me – and I was made to feel completely welcome by everyone, and they made the course really enjoyable. They were a great group of people and I made some great friends. That was one of the best things about the course, not only getting the qualifications and doing the things you love, but meeting new people that you would probably not have met otherwise.
“The college facilities were fantastic – amazing grounds – it was lovely to go out to the woodlands with my ID book and identify plant species or butterflies and birds. There was also a great library, café, workshops for vehicle maintenance, and working farm.”
Mark finished his course last summer having secured a job working for the National Trust, on the Golden Cap estate on the Jurassic Coast. His responsibilities include membership recruitment which covers conservation of the area, meeting and greeting the public, and using the ID skills he learned at College. He says it’s a great step towards becoming a Countryside Ranger with the National Trust, his goal for the future.
He said: “I would thoroughly recommend doing a course at Kingston Maurward College – it’s not like a school environment, and the teachers were fantastic – my tutor is from a Countryside background and was once a ranger so the knowledge is impeccable. The stepping stones created by the College to get work for students is great – they help in any way they can – it’s absolutely fantastic – an ideal college in an ideal setting, perfect!”