In the Spotlight: Terri Dawson

August 2021

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Former Writtle University College student Terri Dawson now works as an Education Officer and Green Mentor for the Wilderness Foundation UK.

She reveals how the skills and experience she developed at Writtle helped her to gain her dream job.

Time at Writtle University College

I started at Writtle after finishing school and I studied Level 3 Extended Diploma in Horse Management. I thoroughly enjoyed this course, mixing practical elements and classroom based work learning about animals that I adored.

I found exams very stressful so being able to do a BTEC really worked for me. I most enjoyed my time spent on the stud, learning about and handling the young stock. I look back now with fond memories and still find myself using the knowledge I learnt.

I loved being at Writtle and I had never planned to go to university but when I came to the second year of college I began to realise I could do it, as long as it was at Writtle. So I applied for the BSc (Hons) Conservation and Environment degree, I finally was choosing a course that deep down I knew I had always wanted a career in.

For the first time I knew I wasn't going to be judged or criticised because at Writtle I always felt supported. The course excited me, the first year we learnt so much in the classroom and out in the field!

My favourite memories include learning how to fell and coppice trees with hand tools; knowledge which has come in use in my career. In our second year we got to travel to Ukraine and Pembrokeshire. My favourite memory here is getting to see Puffins up close on Skoma Island.

Our last year, the hardest year, was filled with information and guidance which ultimately prepared us for the final leaps into careers or further study.

I felt very lucky to have always had such wonderful lecturers that always had time for you. They were supportive and honest about our work which helped us all to become better versions of ourselves.  

Career Success

During my time at college we needed to complete work experience and I was lucky enough to spend two weeks at Riverside Vets in Benfleet, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I was offered a part time job once I had finished for the summer. I spent five years at Riverside Vets, I learnt so much from my role there!

During my second year of Uni and my third year working at the vets, I knew I wanted to do more to gain experience in conservation or an environmental role. I received an email from one of my lecturers, that Wilderness Foundation UK were looking for volunteers on their environmental education team, working with children outdoors and teaching them about the natural world.

I jumped at the chance and started in summer 2017! I loved it! I was using the knowledge I had learnt at university and bringing it to life for children from age four. I loved the site at Chatham Green, Chelmsford and suddenly I knew what I wanted to do.

I volunteered until May 2018 when I started working there part time alongside the vets after completing my degree. I took on the role of Assistant Education Officer and then in October 2019 I took over the role of Education Officer. I have been with the Wilderness Foundation now just over four years and I could not of achieved this without the knowledge I gained from the lecturers at Writtle.

Working at the Wilderness Foundation

My current role at the Wilderness Foundation UK is Education Officer and Green Mentor. My job is managing the environmental education programme. I work with young people aged four to nineteen from primary, secondary and SEND schools.

Alongside my fantastic team, we inspire young people about the natural world as we show them around our beautiful 40 acre site. We get young people pond dipping, den building, bug hunting and much, much more.

During the school holidays we spend time with five to ten year olds getting muddy, eating toasted marshmallows and allowing children to create their own relationships with nature. I love my job, I work mostly outdoors although I do lots behind the desk. It's never been more important to inspire the next generation to love and care for the natural world.

I hope that the knowledge I gained at Writtle, which I pass on through my role with the young people, will go on and help make the changes we need to see in the world for the benefit of nature and the environment.