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A Love of Nature Leads to a New Career Path

Student Catriona, sitting on a rock in a snowy forest

When Catriona Cooper turned to bird watching to help her cope with losing her beloved grandmother, she realised her skills were more suited to working outdoors than in a pub or with BT as she’d done previously.

The single mum from Arbroath decided to enrol on an HNC Wildlife and Conservation Management course at SRUC via distance learning, where she has been learning about land use and habitat loss, nature legislation and policies, and the physical landscape of Scotland, among other things.

Catriona, 39, said: “I currently volunteer with the Scottish Wildlife Trust at Montrose Basin and would love a career that allows me to watch and protect bird species and share my passion with others.

“The content of the course has been really interesting, and the tutors are absolutely fantastic. As a mature student with ADHD, and a small child who was being home-schooled, they have been really good at checking in to make sure I am OK and happy with the work. Student Services are also excellent and do everything in their power to help you succeed.

“The only downside has been that there are currently no field trips, but hopefully restrictions will allow for this at some point.”

Her greatest achievement to date has been seeing – and being chased by – a capercaillie.

However, her ambition when she finishes her course is to get a Ranger or Warden job with a conservation charity – preferably on the Uists or Islay.

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