A New Start

My name is Hannah Richardson and I am 23 years old. I am an environmental science graduate from England and I have been working for Tilhill Forestry for the last year. My route into forestry was not direct, with most of my experience being in environmental education and sustainability. During both my A-levels and my degree I worked as an environmental education teacher/assistant in both Nottinghamshire and The Yorkshire Dales running school field trips in Biology and Geography.

During the last few months of my degree Tilhill Forestry came to my university to give a talk on their graduate scheme, from this I was inspired to take my degree in another direction and try something new, and I guess you could say I haven’t looked back.

Being a female working in the forest industry people regularly are intrigued when I tell them what it is I do for a job. After dropping my trusty Skoda Yeti in at the garage one morning my courtesy driver asked me if there was anything I would like to keep from the vehicle. When I re-emerged with wellies, hard hat, hi-vis and a hand saw his face was a picture. You don’t look like a forest worker was the reply I received and this isn’t the first time I have been told this. However, I work from an office where being a female assistant forest manager or forest manager is not unusual, and in fact the company and the industry itself are rife with women.

After moving from the midlands to Scotland only a few days after finishing my last university exams, I was thrown into the throngs of a new job and a new home. As a student with little knowledge of the career and industry the first few months were full of intense training and learning, getting out and about and experiencing all the roles we perform in every day work. This meant many an evening crashing out on my sofa with a brain full of information and very heavy eyes!

With many very experienced people in my office, I quickly began to pick up what each task was and what part these played in the success of growing a valuable crop. One year on I am impressed with how much I have learnt and how much more confident I am in my role.

We are now in July, and unusually for Scotland we are suffering with too hot and too dry conditions. As we battle to finish the planting season, whilst also battling with the weevil populations, we are quickly heading back onto the downhill slope to dark nights and rain, where our job will vary once again (and our t-shirt tans will fade).

My day to day jobs at this time of the year vary greatly. I have had the opportunity to mark out restock sites covering a geography from Renfrewshire to Dumfries and Galloway, prepare end of year reports and budgets for clients, receive plant deliveries and oversee planting operations as well as finalise and submit long-term forest plan renewals. With every day in my job I am still learning and still being given plenty of opportunities to further my knowledge through courses and networking.

One of these opportunities is the Unlocking Potential management training that myself and fellow graduates are currently a part of. This was spoken about in Mike’s previous blog following our last ‘journey’. The second part to our journey will begin this month, where we will meet as a group to learn more about managing change, considering our management styles and techniques, and working on our smiles!

By the time my next blog comes around, unfortunately, I fear the sunshine will have disappeared and once again my role will have changed with the season. In the next blog I will focus more on my day to day role.  Hopefully, the series of blogs we are providing will show that no matter who you are or what you have studied forestry is a great career to have and a great industry to be involved in.



Hannah Richardson