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Colin Gorner

"Harper Adams is the best place in the UK to do a countryside-related course."
Estate Ranger Colin Gorner Colin Gorner working at the National Trust Colin Gorner working at the National Trust

I am a... National Trust estate ranger

Colin Gorner came to Harper Adams as a mature student on a foundation course, and then topped-up to a full honours degree in Countryside Management.

He is now an Estate Ranger with the National Trust, where he spent his placement year.

Having had a successful five-year career as a Weapons Engineer in the Royal Navy, it may have seemed peculiar to friends and family when Colin Gorner applied to study Countryside Management at Harper Adams University.

But the 28-year-old was ready for a new challenge and after spending a year volunteering with the National Trust he knew exactly how he was going to do it.

Colin, who lives in Cheshire, said: “I joined the Navy straight from school so I could travel the world. I did and so then I left for a new challenge – university. I volunteered for the National Trust for one year after leaving the Navy to gain some experience. I really enjoyed working in the outdoor environment so I made a career change and chose to do the FdSc Countryside Management and Bsc (Hons) Countryside Management.”

Colin, who is now an Estate Ranger for the National Trust on the Dunham Massey Estate in Cheshire, started his course in September 2009 after being drawn to the university by its high graduate employment rate and the year-long industrial placement.

“Harper Adams is the best place in the country to do a countryside-related course. The balance of practical and academic skills and knowledge on the courses is excellent. The first year provided me with the level of knowledge needed to work in the countryside sector.

“I gained a good general knowledge of all aspects of the countryside environment and skills that are needed for working in the countryside sector. Once on placement I was able to apply my knowledge whilst at the same time gain valuable hands on skills.”

As well as a seven day field trip to Slapton Sands in Devon, Colin said the most enjoyable part of the course was his placement year which he did at Dunham Massey Estate – where he now works.

“I got my placement at Dunham by physically going straight to the boss and asking him for a placement. I was responsible for contacting and organising volunteer groups from small local groups to big corporations. I was also responsible for health and safety, planning of the day, equipment and leading the volunteer groups throughout the day.

“It provided valuable hands on experience that can only be gained from working in this particular environment. It also provided me with many different contacts within the industry which will be crucial for future potential jobs.”

Having completed a successful year at Dunham, Colin was offered a fulltime post as an Estate Ranger which he started at Easter 2013, returning to the university to take his final exams in June. “Working as a ranger is brilliant as every day is different, especially the deer and woodland management aspects of the role,” he adds.

Reflecting back on his time at Harper Adams, Colin says his choice to return to education to gain a formal qualification was without doubt one of his best.

You could be an Estate/Countryside Ranger if you would enjoy:

  • Estate/woodland management
  • Livestock/wildlife management
  • Practical grounds maintenance
  • Working with volunteers, school groups and the community – you have to like people too!
  • Answering questions and helping visitors enjoy their visit safely – rangers have a lot of knowledge to share
  • Spotting potential problems on site and arranging solutions.
  • Working with other teams to assist with, for instance, marketing, events and education.

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