From education to employment

National School of Forestry Graduate wins ‘Best Dissertation Award 2023’

Richard Miller a Woodland Ecology and Conservation graduate from Saddleworth, Peak District National Park has won Tilhill’s 2023 Award for ‘Best Dissertation’ on the BSc (Hons) course at the University of Cumbria, home to the National School of Forestry.

Of his win, Richard said:

“It’s an honour to receive the award from such an esteemed forest management company as Tilhill, and will act as a reminder of what can be achieved with dedication and hard work. It was also a pleasure to be awarded by Tilhill’s Senior Forest Manager John Lees who I have met previously and my lecturers (Claire Holt, Andrew Leslie and Mark Tomlinson), all of whom I have learned a great deal from.”

Richard aka Ric, is fascinated by forests and woodlands and their ecology so therefore wanted to find a career path which allowed him to gain insight into their sustainable management and to deepen his understanding of their function in the ecosystem. Ric enjoyed the course, finding it the right balance between scientific and technical information.

Ric will utilise his new skills in his current job as a Senior Conservation Ranger at Whinfell Forest, Center Parcs, carrying out forest and habitat management and ecological surveys.

The Award, a specially carved wooden trophy along with £250 prize money, was presented to Ric at the University of Cumbria, National School of Forestry by John Lees, North & Central England Senior Forest Manager for Tilhill, the UK’s leading provider of nature-based solutions.

Upon presenting the Award, John commented:

“It gives me great pleasure to present this award to Richard who has already carved out a great career within forestry as a Senior Conservation Ranger. I hope his degree in woodland ecology and conservation will help aid his job role during what is a most exciting time for forestry as we seek to expand and create new woodlands to combat climate change and the current biodiversity decline. I am thrilled to be able to offer Richard the award today and wish him all the best for the future.”

The University’s location is ideal for studying forests and woodlands and its degree course has a strong professional focus. From its Lake District campus students have access to the neighbouring ancient woodlands, mixed woodlands, and plantations.

Mark Tomlinson, Senior Lecturer at National School of Forestry said:

“I would like to congratulate Ric for winning the best dissertation prize for a highly topical and very competently delivered dissertation study on grey squirrel dispersal movements. This research has a practical application, allowing the identification of likely incursion points by grey squirrels into a red squirrel reserve at Whinfell Forest in Cumbria, where Ric works. Ric has been a model student throughout his studies with us and we wish him all the best in the future. I would also like to thank Tilhill for their continuing support to our forestry programmes including provision of this prize.’

Tilhill has a long association with Cumbria University as many of its past and present employees have studied there.

As part of the company’s work to strengthen links with students, Tilhill offers awards to top performing forestry students at leading universities which offer degrees in forestry related subjects. The company also runs a popular graduate placement scheme.

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