Good old Churchill always did put things well, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end, but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning” (Churchill, 1942). The quote is from his famous victory speech after the battle he named the ‘Battle of Egypt’. And I allow myself to use those hallowed words to mark my victorious emergence from the grad scheme with a new exciting Forestry Commission England position! Since the 1st of August I have no longer been Ruth Wilson Graduate Trainee, rather I became Ruth Wilson Project Manager of the Forestry Commission Centenary Book. I am delighted and very much looking forward to all the new challenges ahead.
Increasingly aware that my time on the graduate scheme was coming to an end I have spent the last few months thinking about what would be the best next step for me. I knew I wanted to stay with the FC, and so I considered and applied for a couple of roles, but all the while I felt very frustrated and sad to be leaving behind my involvement in the Centenary Book. The book is being written by members of FC staff to celebrate the upcoming centenary of the organisation in 2019. The publication of anniversary books is an aspect of FC history I greatly admire, with books being published for the 50th and 75th anniversaries as well – a tradition I am very passionate about continuing. Since January I have been project managing the book’s creation alongside my project management of the New Guidance Framework and various other projects. It has proved to be an incredibly fulfilling and interesting project, exposing me as it has to so many aspects of the organisation, forest history and culture, to many experienced members of staff whose knowledge on their specialist subject has deeply impressed me and to the complexities of organising such a wide-ranging project. However, though I was loathe to leave the project behind, and put off thinking about my post-grad scheme role as long as I could, I knew as the months were ticking past that I needed to secure a position for myself as the end was approaching. Then all of a sudden I was offered this role, in fact it was on the very same day that I was interviewing for another position which meant I was in a strange state of post-interview shock at the time and barely able take in the details! So everything has worked out beautifully and I will be on board to see the book become a finished article and a physical testament to the history and achievements of the Forestry Commission and its staff over the last hundred years. The role will also involve my becoming involved in the wider centenary celebrations being planned for 2019 to celebrate the glorious anniversary, which I am very much looking forward to.
Over the past two years I have been involved in a very varied selection of roles/projects/work including:
- Helping on the North Walk Beat of the New Forest
- Fulfilling the Works Supervisor Role on the South Downs Beat
- Managing Christmas Tree Sales at Queen Elizabeth County Park
- Working on the Web Summaries Project in the Planning Department in South District
- Project Managing the New Guidance Framework
- Creating and Delivering a Workshop Presentation for users of the New Guidance
- Managing Communications for the IT Team
- Project Managing the FC Centenary Book
- Co-chairing the Site Safety and Evacuation Procedures Working Group
- and of course – Creating and Writing The Blonde Forester Blog
As you can see the grad scheme offers a wealth of possibilities, very varied experiences and a plethora of opportunities to be involved in all sorts of FC work. There are so many possibilities and so much exposure to the business offered on the scheme, and I feel the excellent grounding it has given me will stand me in strong stead going forwards. During my two years I have worked with far too many colleagues to mention and thank them all individually here, but I would still like to use this opportunity to thank them collectively for their advice, support, patience (especially in the face of my endless questions as I sought to learn all I could) and above all for the skills and techniques they taught me as I learned on the job. A standout feature of the organisation for me has been the discovery that FC staff are so amazingly friendly – from district to national office I have been met with nothing but enthusiasm and encouragement. The staff belonging to an organisation act as a testament to its ethos and operating practices, and I can absolutely say that FC staff are the greatest resource possessed of the Commission, and I am incredibly proud to now be officially counted among their number. I am proud that I will be able to help celebrate not only the achievements of the Commission in the Centenary Book, but also the incredible successes and stories of its staff over the last hundred years.
The future looks promisingly filled with challenge and interest, my pet tortoise Soames and I will continue our stay of residence in the great city of Bristol, and it is time for me to realise I am no longer a graduate trainee! I would like to thank all of my readers in this, my final blog post. I have loved writing this blog, but I established it with three very definite goals in mind – to provide information on the very varied work carried out by the FC, to spread information on the forestry industry in general and most importantly to follow my journey through the graduate scheme, using it to promote the scheme and to offer information about it. Thus as I finish my graduate journey so too does the blog, and this will be the last post of The Blonde Forester. The blog will continue to reside online, where I hope it can act as a source of information to potential grad schemers in the future, and indeed to anyone interested in the organisation, but it will no longer be updated. So thank you dear readers, and I wish you many happy walks in our glorious woods and forests.