First weeks as an Academy Ranger

Hello, I’m Ellie and I’m the new Academy Ranger in the Heart of the Cotswolds team. The academy scheme was set up to train people like myself who are looking for a career in the countryside and want to gain the practical skills needed to progress in this field. This is achieved both on the job and at college, where I attend 2 week blocks every couple of months to gain key certificates such as chainsaws, pesticides, tractor driving etc., as well as a theoretical background in topics such as sustainability, ecology and habitat management.
So far I have only been in this role for 3 weeks, but I have been getting to know the sites with each member of the team, finding my way around and understanding what it’s like to work at the forefront of conservation. I have joined some meetings where I learned some key considerations made by the Trust and how the values and behaviours influence decisions that are made. An important aspect of this has been working in partnership with other organisations and tenant farmers.
I have also had my first experience of working with livestock, where I have learnt to herd the cows, check them using a 7 stage process and operate the crush to record results of pregnancy dating and TB tests (all of which were good):

Myself and Matt operating the crush after testing the cows.


Coming from studying for a physical geography degree, I enjoy working outside and getting hands-on. I understand the need for conservation in the face of climate change and it’s been interesting to take action on some of its impacts through natural flood management plans and monitoring increasing instances of disease including ash dieback. Most of our sites in the Cotswolds have great views though, like this one at Haresfield Beacon, so it’s good to know I’m a part of protecting these landscapes for future generations:

What a poser…

I’ve also been lucky enough to attend the annual 2 day ranger conference, which this year was hosted at Dinton Park near Salisbury in Wiltshire. This was a conference for teams in the Wessex region, so I had the opportunity to meet and network with rangers from other parts of the region and find out what they do at each of their properties. I took advantage of this and got a special mention by the Area Director of Operations in the closing speech.
The conference also included workshops on topics such as land condition involving soil and water quality observations, as well as some fun team tasks involving zip wiring, tree climbing and the all important tug-of-war battle which got quite competitive!

One of our teams getting ready to tug!

We did quite well having come 2nd, after taking our strategy quite seriously, but it was a conference enjoyed by all and I am looking forward to next year’s which will be larger and based at Killerton in Exeter. It was my first experience of proper camping, and we got a tour of Phillips House by a very interesting curator, so working for the Trust includes a large variety of tasks..


Overall, my first 3 weeks as an Academy Ranger have been enjoyable and I hope for this to continue.

Eleanor Dodson

Academy Ranger, Heart of the Cotswolds.


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