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Harper Adams degree takes graduates to a palace in the countryside (part 1)

Posted 26 July 2016

Christian Halbert at work

Christian Halbert at work

Harper Adams University visits Blenheim Palace soon, for the first Countryfile Live event, August 4 to 7.

Visitors might even come across some of our students and alumni who work at the World Heritage Site. They include Christian Halbert, 27, who holds a BSc (Hons) Countryside & Environmental Management degree from Harper Adams. 

Q. How did you come to be working at Blenheim Palace?

A. I applied for a few jobs for my placement year, the Blenheim placement particularly stood out as it was the first time the estate had created a placement job and the vacancy was for an assistant to the rural enterprise manager. I had a great placement year which covered the whole range of the estates management, and as a result I ended up working the following two summers helping with the forestry team and on events. After I graduated I did a season beating on the grouse moors in Scotland, when I returned I had a phone call telling me that there was a full-time position available as a member of the forestry team.

Q. Tell us about an exciting typical day on the job?

A. There really is no such thing as a 'typical' day; the work load varies dependant on the time of year and what might be going on across the estate. We could be cutting Christmas trees, coppicing, thinning mature plantations, milling timber or managing young plantations. Tree safety is paramount in such a highly visited site, so we may be doing arboricultural work, clearing up wind-blow or surveying for the health of the mature trees. We take part also in a larger-scale local projects, for river restoration, education and even re-planting of the ancient Wychwood forest area. In early autumn I survey each of the veteran oak trees in High Park; individually monitoring their health, condition and work priority in order to increase their longevity. During the summer a big focus is also on facilitating the many events held in the park grounds.

Q. What has been the standout moment of your time at Blenheim thus far?

A. There have been many stand out moments during my time at Blenheim but most recently it has got to be the first time I climbed one of Browns grand cedar trees and admired the view from the top, on the south lawn of the palace.

Q. Where do you hope to be in 5 years’ time and what would be your advice to anyone who wants to follow your career path?

A. In 5 years’ time I see myself going in one of three possible directions. I like the idea of being an entrepreneur, so the thought of managing my own forestry contractors/consultancy business is exciting. Equally I would really revel in the idea of being head forester on a large estate where I could leave my stamp and be part of a tradition of working foresters. However forestry isn't a job which is easy going on the body, so becoming a chartered forestry consultant is a career avenue which I have already started preparing for.

Read about fellow graduate Ellie Exelby, also now employed at Blenheim Palace, here.