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Blazing a new trail into the forestry profession

Bangor student Jim Wright who is studying MSc Forestry (distance learning), currently registered on the programme at Bangor University, started the course in order to change career, after working in a variety of different industries.  His commitment to the subject has seen him secure a placement with a leading forest management company, Pryor & Rickett Silviculture.

Reflecting on his journey into forestry and his placement with Pryor and Rickett, Jim Wright said “I found my way into forestry a little later than many via a varied path that included both hospitality and teaching amongst other things. I think this helped my initial forays to some extent, as I've not only felt it incumbent upon myself to catch up by taking every possible opportunity to engage but also picked up a number of life skills which I feel helped to make me attractive to Pryor & Rickett – most notably life experience, people skills and confidence. 

Thanks to the links that Bangor University has with many forest and land management related employers, lots of opportunities are regularly circulated to current students and alumni.  Hence I made a number of applications and it wasn't long before I was invited to an interview in South Wales with Pryor & Rickett. 

Three months since I started my year as an Assistant Forester, I'm exposed on a daily basis to new and interesting ways to supplement and built upon my university studies. Contact with senior foresters, landowners, contractors and public servants in forestry has helped me understand and practice a whole range of skills that will give me a great foundation on which to build my forestry career.

The distance learning nature of Bangor's MSc Forestry degree really made this opportunity possible.  I am writing this at my desk in the office in Brecon, having just spent a day out on site surveying a new property with a colleague, where we discussed the possibility of integrating agroforestry systems. And what is my next university assessment..., to design an agroforestry system, as part of module focusing on agroforestry!

I would encourage any students who have the opportunity to further their learning in a day to day capacity to have the confidence to trust that they can do it, no matter what stage of their studies they are at.  Go for it!”

Pryor & Rickett, Senior Forester Andrew Sowerby MCIFor, was glowing in his assessment of the work that Jim has done so far.  “Since starting in June 2019, Jim has contracted and supervised manual and chemical weeding operations. Surveyed planting sites to assess survival rates of tree seedlings. Supervised clear-felling, thinning and the construction of timber harvesting facilities through civil engineering. He proficiently assesses sites for important compliance regarding health, safety and the environment and records his finding digitally in iAuditor. His supervision work includes one thinning site that requires felling adjacent to a scheduled ancient monument with roosting bats, an involved community and technical tree harvesting of uneven aged trees in a recreation site. Jim is currently busy preparing for the winter planting season, when he will supervise restocking and woodland creation of over 200 hectares of woodland. Since starting in the role Jim has thrived in the complexity of modern forestry, enjoyed the freedom of 4x4 driving and distinguished himself as a thoughtful and committed Masters student of Bangor University.”

James Walmsley, course director for the MSc Forestry (distance learning) programme and personal tutor for Jim Wright, added:

“Being able to help people live out their dreams is a real honourI’m really delighted that Jim has been able to secure such a great placement, truly bringing his studies to life.  There are consistently a number of ‘career changers’ who study with us and the part-time nature of these programmes mean that it’s no longer necessary for them to wait until they graduate before seeking out new and exciting employment opportunities.  I hope that this success story provides encouragement to other employers to also consider offering this ‘sandwich placement’ option, and similarly I hope it provides inspiration to current students that they really can make their dream of a forestry career come true.”

Publication date: 3 December 2019