Student blog - Robin Hutchinson BSc Applied Animal Science Level 6 top-up, Year 3

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Animal

Hi, I’m Robin and I’m in my third year studying BSc Applied Animal Science.

One of my favourite things about studying at Hartpury is that it’s a specialist university. This makes our lectures really interesting as they are taught by people who are passionate about their subjects. When I first visited, I fell in love with the campus – and the beautiful lake – and knew Hartpury was the place for me. The amazing animal facilities were also a big draw, I’ve been able to work with so many different species on site. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do in my career, so I chose a course that allowed me to take modules in different areas to begin with and specialise later on.

As part of the course, I’ve been able to gain lots of hands-on experience. We have practical sessions on campus, gaining skills such as animal handling, surveying methods and lab diagnostic techniques. We use the facilities on campus (like the farm) to study how theory can be used in an industry setting. There are also plenty of opportunities to go on field trips, where we hear from industry professionals. Recently, we’ve been to the Guide Dogs’ National Breeding Centre.

Work placements have helped me choose my career
Placements are a great way to gain more experience and skills, and to learn more about what you can do when you graduate. Here are some of the great places I’ve worked as part of my course:

St James’ City Farm in Gloucester - I helped with the daily feeding and cleaning of the animals, and taught groups of children who came to visit the farm. My favourite experience was taking the goats to the local school’s Christmas Fete!

Shepreth Wildlife Park – I spent a week in each section of the zoo, working with everything from armadillos to a tiger! I particularly enjoyed working in the education department. I helped with summer camps, delivered the daily handling talk and went on outreach events.

Hartpury’s Animal Collection - I volunteered to clean and feed the animals once a week. There’s such a great variety of animals in the collection and you get to experience working with all of them.

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) residential volunteering – I spent six weeks living and working on an RSPB reserve in the Hebrides. I got involved in all areas of the reserve, including farming, wildlife surveying, visitor experience and habitat maintenance. This was my favourite placement. I felt like a valuable part of a community, working towards specific goals on the reserve. I loved learning about the wildlife of the island and how the conservation we were doing, would have a direct impact on its survival. I can see myself working in a similar role as a career once I graduate.

My placements have given me a wide range of skills. Not only does this make me a suitable candidate for many different jobs, it also shows employers that I’m willing and eager to learn new things. I’ve become more confident in going into a new environment, which helps me both at work and in interviews. I’ve also learned a lot from the people I’ve worked with, so I’ll be ready to face problems and find solutions in my future career.

Through having a go at a variety of different placements, I was able to figure out what I wanted to do once I leave university. I found that I love working on nature reserves and I really enjoy teaching and talking to the public. I also discovered how fascinating and important insects are!

I can’t wait to become a conservationist

When I graduate from Hartpury, I’m planning to pursue a career in conservation. My course is helping me to get there – this year I have taken a variety of modules in this field including Biodiversity and Conservation, and Wildlife and Zoo Management. We’ve been on a field trip to Paignton Zoo and heard from guest lecturers about current issues within conservation.

Next year, I’m going to study a MSc (by Research) in Entomology to gain the specialist knowledge and skills I need to pursue a career working with insects. I’m looking forward to spending a year studying a subject I’m really passionate about, and possibly going on to a PhD in the future.

I’m not stopping volunteering either. This summer, I’ll be spending three months on a World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) smallholding in Cornwall, learning about sustainable farming and practicing my wildlife surveying and animal husbandry skills!

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