When my school told me to find work experience, the Arboricultural Association was not the first organisation I contacted. In truth, I had not even heard of the Arboricultural Association until I stumbled upon it on Google. However, I am very glad I did.
My name is Amy, and I’m a Year 12 student studying Geography, Biology and History. I knew I wanted my work experience to relate to ecology and conservation (I intend to study this at university), so I was overjoyed when the Arboricultural Association responded and immediately accepted me. Though arboriculture and ecology are different, they share many similarities so much of what I learnt was beneficial.
The Arboricultural Association were very keen to give me the best experience possible – and I can safely say they didn’t disappoint. A programme was arranged for me that was varied and meaningful, with the aim that I would experience as many of the different departments as possible at the Malthouse. This meant I was given a wide range of tasks to do and I was never bored.
Student Amy Libbiter with John Parker, CEO, and Georgina Murray, Office Administrator.
As soon as I arrived, I was universally welcomed and made to feel at home. Across the week I worked in publishing, membership, marketing and accreditations, alongside the one or two people in each department who showed me the ropes. My tasks included: processing and packing online orders, conducting research to improve the Arboricultural Association’s webpage on careers, doing a stock take, sorting invoices, using Excel and extracting and manipulating data. Although this seems like standard office work, it gave me a great insight into the behind-the-scenes of a non-profit organisation and I picked up many useful skills along the way. I was given ample opportunity and encouragement to take advantage of the wealth of information around me, so I thoroughly explored the Arboricultural Association website and read many of their publications. I was also signed up as a student member and given access to some online courses.
The week was made all the better by the bee relocation that was going on throughout the week. A colony of honeybees had built a hive in one of the outhouses, so a beekeeper came to move them to another spot in the picnic area. This process, though unrelated to my work experience, was fascinating to see.
But the highlight of my week was Thursday, when I attended an event at the Alice Holt Forest in Surrey, during which people in the industry came together to hear talks about various aspects of arboriculture and to go on a tree walk. I was very privileged to be able to attend and meet so many great people. One of those people was Tony Kirkham who is the former Head of Arboretum and Gardens & Horticulture Services at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, who gave a fascinating talk on tree planting. I also learnt lots about pests and diseases, landscape design and a local community project. I had a fantastic day and learnt so much – it was definitely worth the long journey!
I had an amazing week thanks to the kindness and generosity of the staff, and I would definitely recommend that anyone looking for work experience in the Gloucestershire area look no further than the Arboricultural Association.
This article was taken from Issue 203 Winter 2023 of the ARB Magazine, which is available to view free to members by simply logging in to the website and viewing your profile area.