Bury College Animal Care students have completed a unique project with the Canal & River Trust, a charity which cares for the nation’s 2,000 miles of canals and rivers, which has provided learners with a rare opportunity to work on a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Since March, second year Level 3 Animal Care students have undertaken aquatic surveying and plant species surveying at Sites of Special Scientific Interest. The data which they have collated will feed into Natural England, the Canal & River Trust studies for longer term wildlife management. This unique opportunity provides students with career progression not widely offered elsewhere in the North West.

Students have been working on three sites on the Rochdale Canal including Castleton, Slattocks and Rochdale Town Centre. This practical, hands-on project has allowed students to further their knowledge and gain essential surveying skills to help them with their next steps after college.

19 year old Abbi Pattison from Whitefield has secured a place to study veterinary nursing at Myerscough College and believes the skills she has developed will help with her progression. The former Philips High School pupil said of her experience on the canals, “I have really enjoyed this project and I have learnt a lot about how to conserve nature as well as developed my knowledge of trees.”

Lisa Clarke, a Freshwater/Marine Zoologist and Animal Management Lecturer at Bury College said, “This is a very rare opportunity for students. To be permitted to undertake training and work on a Site of Special Scientific Interest is unheard of as this is only offered to qualified ecologists who have undergone necessary training. It has been a fantastic experience for students to work alongside the Canal and River Trust and gain skills not normally offered to undergraduate students. The students have worked hard to establish an initial database from which a new cohort of students will build on. This data is significant UK wide. As a thank you to the students for all their hard work the Canal and River Trust provided an end of year narrowboat trip for the students with lunch. We look forward to continued work with a great organisation.”

James Wynn, volunteer team leader at the Canal & River Trust added: “Thanks to the funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and the players of the People’s Postcode Lottery, we’re able to work with Bury College on this special project to carry out lots of environmental monitoring on the Rochdale canal. The students have been fascinated to learn all about the canal and the varied wildlife that lives in it, from herons and damselfly to the rare types of plants. The results from the surveys will help us to plan future work to keep the canal a special place for all.”

To find out more about Animal Care courses at Bury College please call 0161 280 8280.

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Telephone: 0161 280 8280

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