Wildlife undergraduates introduced to life behind the lens

Wildlife Conservation and Ecology undergraduates have been learning how to shoot and edit videos as part of their course.

Twenty-six final year students who are studying a ‘wildlife in the media’ module spent the half term week studying conservation film-making, delivered on campus by the Wildeye International School of Wildlife Film-making.

This is the first time we have completed this exciting module, and it has given our undergraduates some excellent skills which will help them to record, communicate and promote their research projects.

Delivered by Wildeye Principal Piers Warren and Camera and Production tutor Mike Linley, both of whom have worked with major broadcasters, the training covered all the skills required to make a relevant conservation film. Research, planning and storyboarding was followed by training in practical production which included filming techniques, sound recording and editing., and our students also had training in stills photography.

Ten groups each made a two-minute film followed by feedback which will be invaluable as they need to complete an eight-minute video by April as their final project.  Their subjects ranged from zoo residents including otters, meerkats, birds of prey, fish, frogs and leaf cutter ants to wildlife on campus such as rabbits, ducks and squirrels.

They also enjoyed a photographic competition – here’s the winning shot taken by Amy Callaghan:

Amy Callaghan's winning Robin photography

Amy Callaghan’s winning Robin photography

The course was so successful that we are already planning to offer it annually to undergraduates.

Said Piers: “Film-making is a powerful way of putting out a message.  Having a zoo on site has been a tremendous asset and this, along with the grounds and lake, have given us the scope for a project which has tested the students’ observational skills and knowledge of habitat and animal behaviour.  They have also had to work as a team to a tight deadline, all skills which will hopefully help them in their future careers.”

Earlier this month members of Reaseheath’s Conservation Society enjoyed a lecture from wildlife film-maker Madelaine Westwood, founder of the Great Apes Film Initiative (GAFI), who has co-authored a book on conservation film-making with Piers.

For further details about our animal management degrees see: (animal science)

For further details about Wildeye see


Katie excels during latest South African adventure

BSc (Hons) Wildlife Conservation and Ecology graduate Katie Adams is set on a highly specialised career helping to conserve endangered species.

Widely travelled and with experience of working in animal rehabilitation in South Africa and in the UK, she feels that achieving her Reaseheath degree has very much helped to crystallize her career options.

Katie Adams in Africa duing her FGASA training

Katie Adams in Africa during her FGASA training

Hoping to specialise in the conservation of big cats and habitats, Katie’s returned to South Africa in January on 6 month training scheme with the Field Guide Association of Southern Africa (FGASA) to gain her level 1 field guide licence. So far she’s achieved 90% and above in a range of modules in her first semester including an introduction to guiding, mammals , reptiles, ecology, taxonomy, tree identification and ethology.

Once she’s completed her initial training Katie will go on to complete a 6 month work placement. From there she intends to combine working as a field guide with conservation research, hoping to concentrate on  the Limpopo region of South Africa.

Although she has always wanted to work with animals, Katie, 28, admits she had trouble choosing the right career in a very diverse industry. She completed an apprenticeship in small animal care, but realised that it wasn’t the right path for her.

As she had been out of full time education for a while, Katie prepared for her degree by completing a Access to HE course in biological sciences in her home town of Hull. She proceeded to combine studying for her degree with a job as a supermarket deputy manager.

She says: “I always knew I wanted to work with endangered animals, however in such a competitive industry it can be hard to know how to pursue your dream.

“I left school at 17 and never thought I would go back into education. But with the support of lecturers at Reaseheath, I’ve gained the personal confidence and professional encouragement to develop skills I didn’t know I had. Those skills I will no doubt benefit from for many years to come.

“Despite the hard work needed to complete my degree, it was some of the best years of my life.”

Reaseheath student wins award for floodplain orchard

Reaseheath College undergraduate Daniel Ackerley has won a national award with his flood plain orchard.

Daniel, who is studying for his Foundation Degree in Countryside, Conservation and Recreation at the Nantwich college, was a runner-up in The Conservation Foundation’s ‘Gardening Against the Odds’ Awards.

The annual competition seeks out horticultural projects which are inspirational in their own right, which benefit people who face physical, mental or environmental ’odds’ and which can also offer wider benefits to the community.

Daniel, who lives in Vicars Cross, Chester, successfully grows over 100 fruit trees near the River Dee in Farndon despite the land being flooded with up to six feet of water during the winter.

He has planted the two acre plot with unusual and heritage varieties of fruit trees including apples, pears, plums, quince, mulberries, walnuts and hazelnuts, some dating back to Roman times. He is also growing endangered native black poplar and elm trees which he is monitoring as part of national programmes to grow disease resistant species.

As the plot adjoins a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) Daniel manages the orchard to provide diverse habitat for wildlife and hopes that as it matures it could be used to educate young people in conservation methods.

He also hopes to increase his involvement in community activities, as the orchard is near Holt’s medieval castle and is on a popular walking route around Farndon and Holt.

The 46 year-old engineer, who had to retire prematurely from his work on off shore oil rigs due to Crohn’s Disease, has found that the project and his college course has given him an alternative focus.

Passionately interested in conservation and in garden history, Daniel decided to go ahead with his orchard once he realised that a similar scheme nearby had been successful centuries ago despite being regularly flooded.

Daniel receives his certificate from actress Susan Hampshire

Daniel receives his certificate from actress Susan Hampshire

He said: “Having an underwater orchard might seem a bit strange but the knowledge that it’s worked in the past gave me the confidence to go ahead. My college course has enabled me to carry out the project scientifically and in a structured way, using both traditional and modern techniques.

“Basically I’m trying to retain a vestige of medieval field system which is surrounded by modern agriculture. To do this successfully I need a good understanding of science and current legislation as well as practical skills.

“I was surprised and delighted to make the judges’ selection for the ‘Gardening Against the Odds’ award. The whole event was extremely positive. All finalists were selected because their projects were outward looking and went beyond their own boundaries.”

The Conservation Foundation Director David Shreeve said: “Daniel is a great example of what the ‘Gardening Against the Odds’ awards are all about. The judges were really impressed with his story and what he is doing.

“Susan Hampshire, a keen fruit grower herself, described it as an inspired use of space, growing trees and producing fruit.”

The finals of the prestigious competition were held on Wednesday at a gala tea party at Syon House in London.

Find out more about the Foundation Degree in Countryside, Conservation and Recreation.