Lecturer steps down after 22 years

By Lucy Todman | Shrewsbury | Education | Published:

A lecturer who, for the past 22 years, has helped to train a generation of ecologists has stepped back and retired.

Pictured are Jenni Duffell, Mark Duffell, Dr Sarah Whild, Sue Townsend (Field Studies Council), Emma Hopkisson and Dr Emma Coulthard

Since 1996 Dr Sarah Whild has been leader of the Biological Recording programme, which includes a University Certificate, MSc and day courses. Last year the courses celebrated 21 years of success, having been administered for all that time from offices within the Gateway in Shrewsbury.

At the turn of the century, Dr Whild and Sue Townsend, of the Field Studies Council, had a clear vision of a growing gap in biological recording education provision that inspired them to establish a partnership between the University of Birmingham, which later transferred to Manchester Metropolitan University, the Field Studies Council and the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland.

Since then, over 600 people have been awarded a University Certificate in Biological Recording and more than 300 people an MSc. Former students have gone on to have roles within government agencies, biological records centres, ecological consultancies, wildlife trusts and charities; as well as holding positions in many recording schemes and societies.

Many of her past students have gone on to promote and train future biological recorders and this has created an expanded network of biological recording training and mentoring.

Dr Whild devised and launched the Field Identification Skills Certificate (FISC) over 10 years ago which has now become the industry standard for assessing botanical survey skills.

Mark Duffell of Arvensis Ecology said: "Sarah has the ability to enthuse students on the importance of biological recording and how these observations can have a positive impact on the natural environment. Her natural talent as a scientist, teacher and artist all came to the fore in her days out in the field and in the classroom. I have many happy memories of being taught by Sarah whether that was drenched in Benthall Edge wood in Ironbridge looking at Ferns or botanising along the River Severn in Shrewsbury on a warm sunny evening."

She is succeeded by Dr Emma Coulthard.

Lucy Todman

By Lucy Todman

Senior reporter for the Shropshire Star and Shrewsbury Chronicle based in Shrewsbury.


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