Work experience student Kira Baxter talks about working with Ecus

Throughout my two weeks of work experience, I have had the chance to work with Ecus' Ecology, Landscape, Heritage and Arboriculture.

Kira Baxter
Written by:

Kira Baxter

July 12, 2022

I have been able to take part in a number of site visits as well as observing the work that is done in the office. I read through a number of reports that the teams have written for clients and found it very interesting to see how they transfer their data into their reports. The landscaping team showed me a range of their projects, including care homes and large housing developments. It was educational to see what aspects they focused on most, for example the visual pollution that a site may cause. I was able to have a go at landscaping my own site on paper and it was fun to be able to decide on which types of plants, either shrubs or trees, were most suitable and attractive.

With the Ecology Team I have read through a few reports, and again been able to understand their focus. Here the focus is more on the activity of the species including bats and Great Crested Newts, and how to protect them. I was able to go on a site visit with Natasha who was carrying out water testing for the DNA of Great Crested Newts. It was interesting to learn about when and where the newts reproduce, and also about the safety precautions that could be taken by the developers. I enjoyed seeing the process of the water testing because it made me more aware of the scientific process of collecting DNA. I was also able to witness Natasha and Tom’s vast knowledge as they spotted various species of plants on our walk, which I found very impressive!

I also spent time with the Heritage Team, specifically Tom. He showed me the mapping system that they use for sites (QGIS) which I found very interesting as I had never seen it before. This will be useful for me in the future if I have to map sites with similar technology. I went on a site visit with Tom as well, where we visited a site near Coventry and then visited the Warwickshire Archives. I thought the archives were very interesting as there was so much more information than I had expected and I didn’t realise I would be able to touch records from the 1700s! We managed to find maps of our site from the 1700s and 1800s, helping us to understand the ownership of the site for the report that would be written.

Canal Boat

With the Arboriculture team I took part in site work for the Canal and River Trust. It was a very sunny day and I really enjoyed walking along the canals with Dave, who was undertaking a health and safety survey of the trees. We met with the client and this helped me to understand how the work of the team actually transferred into client transaction, giving me more insight into the job. Then we walked the canals, observing any possible trees that could pose a risk. I also learned many interesting facts about trees from Dave which helped me to appreciate them more. The topic of arboriculture was extremely new to me but I was very surprised by how much it interested me and how much I learnt about the trees themselves, and even the diseases that threaten them, including Ash Dieback, which was very common at the site.

Overall I was able to spend time with all of the different departments at Sheffield, and it was interesting to see how the focus was different for all of the teams, despite them all trying to guide clients in the best way. I am very grateful that I was able to go on site visits with a number of departments as I got hands-on experience and could observe the work. I have gained ICT skills spending time observing sites on Google maps, and looking at lots of new websites regarding planning boundaries including Magic Maps. Also spending my work days with many people has allowed me to use my communication skills, which is a key skill for both now and the future. My time at Ecus has given me more insight into what jobs are available in environmental sector, which will help me to decide on my path for the future.

Ecus On Site at a Canal