Tom joined our forestry team after helping out as a tree planter during the planting season. We caught up with him for a chat:
What were you doing before you joined the team?
I spent five years working in secondary schools, specialising in teaching environmental studies to children with special educational needs. I also helped at a summer camp and, having always been interested in trees, did some time as a groundsperson with a tree surgeon. In my spare time, I play guitar and I am a singer/songwriter.
What does an average day in the forest involve for you?
During the planting season, I will be spending my days planting trees, but otherwise I can be doing anything from mowing and waymarking footpaths to replacing dead trees.
I also run our Volunteer Days, supervising up to eight helpers at a time and undertaking a variety of tasks.
In addition, I am responsible for ensuring that you, the public, have a great time when you visit the forest and deal with any issues that may arise. As a media production graduate, I also enjoy keeping the marketing team up to date with the latest news from the forest so they can share it with you on social media. (Check out our Facebook Page: Heart of England Forest.)
What is the best thing you have learned whilst working for the charity?
That would be working alongside and learning from Head Forester Stephen. I have loved the outdoors since I was a Boy Scout, so having the chance to tap into his expertise is fantastic.
Which is your favourite tree and why?
It has to be the good, old British Oak, because we plant so many of them and I am learning such a lot about them.
What do you think is the main benefit of planting a native forest in the heart of England?
Coming from urban Coventry, I think it is brilliant that we have these massive natural areas just half an hour away from the big Midlands cities for families to explore.
How would you like to see the forest grow?
In time, I would love it if the forest hosted big ‘welly walks’ for kids to teach them about nature. It might also be fun to have obstacle courses around the woods for families to try out. I am also very excited about the plans for our new Educational Centre, which is due to open soon. I will be helping to run it, and I am particularly thrilled because it will combine two of my favourite things: trees and teaching!