Working with incredible plants in a beautiful setting
Bangor University graduate Rosie Barratt is currently working as a Horticultural Technician at Treborth Botanic Garden, Bangor University.
Rosie studied Ecology at Bangor and graduated in 2008.
The best thing about my job is that I get to work with incredible plants and people and be a part of a learning experience for members of the community, students and academics.
My job is so varied and involves communicating with people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds. Jobs I carry out include supporting teaching and research, showing around visiting groups and academics, specialist gardening work, managing volunteers, casual staff and contractors, working with community groups, giving talks and lectures and getting involved with anything else that crops up. I learn new things every day!
How did you get there?
I graduated and got a job as an ecologist at a multidisciplinary consultancy in Colwyn Bay. I worked for almost a year and a half carrying out protected species and habitat survey work. Most of the work was not in North Wales so I had to travel and stay away a lot.
I realised that I really wanted to focus my career on plants so I applied for a year long botanical and horticultural studentship at Birmingham Botanic Garden. I got accepted without the required qualifications promised to complete my Royal Horticultural Society level 2 certificate over the year. It was the best introduction to botany and horticulture I could have had.
Following that, I applied for the Historic Botanic Garden Bursary Scheme. I worked for nine months at Tresco Abbey Garden on the isles of Scilly as well as three months at the Ness Botanic Garden on the Wirral (Liverpool University Botanic Garden).
I was kept on at Ness for a few months as a gardener and then as a research technician for a post doc research project on the effects of climate change on our native floristic communities.
In 2011, I was appointed as a part time gardener at Treborth Botanic Garden and worked part time work at Crug Farm nurseries and for the North Wales Wildlife Trust as the Wildlife Gardening Volunteer Co-ordinator.
I was made full time at Treborth in November 2013 and here I am!
As a student I volunteered at Treborth and this led to me getting work experience with a botanical surveyor during my summer holidays and a permanent job after graduating. I also gained experience with other voluntary organisations during my holidays such as loggerhead turtle conservation in Kefalonia, Greece and the Umbrella Foundation (Care homes for children) in Kathmandu, Nepal.
People often think you have to have a lot of money to get involved in volunteering overseas but for both of these projects I just paid for my flights.
My advice for anyone graduating this year would be to get practical experience. Without having native plant ID skills I would not have got my first job. I learnt these skills through volunteering which then led to paid work during my summer holidays. The more experience you have, the more you open yourself up to opportunities so get out and get involved with projects that interest you.
The best thing about studying at Bangor was getting involved at Treborth as a student, the location for studying plant diversity (being able to visit sites in the wild), the people I met, the staff in both my departments (School of Biological Science and the School of Environment, Natural Resources and Geography).
Clubs and societies…
I was one of the students who started the Student Treborth Action Group in 2006 and ran that for a couple of years and I was also involved with Bangor Forestry Society. I was on the surf club committee looking after the equipment and organising surf trips.
The best things about living in North Wales are the mountains, beaches and local people.