#5 Beth Aucott, MSc Zoology, University of Nottingham
We loved Beth’s application, as it combined a healthy mix of art and science; with a pending MSc in Zoology, most people would expect Beth to be of a scientific turn, however, to support her application she sent us a selection of her unique artwork, stylised drawings of various animals from all over the world. Beth has a skill for capturing the outline and impression of a creature, without getting bogged down in the details – in the future these skills could be developed and transferred to graphic design or print-making. Another element of the application that jumped out at us, was her love and appreciation of anthropomorphic children’s literature, particularly Tarka the Otter.
Beth also displayed an element in her application that is rare amongst young people nowadays: a raw, hands-on love of nature. Practical conservation is key to the development of the British nature conservation movement, but with Beth, it is coupled with a want to jump in puddles, play in the snow and roll down grassy hills!
Beth received a selection of field guides from A Focus On Nature, totalling approximately £100, donated by WildSounds. She has also been mentored by Ed Drewitt, and we hope to take our professional relationship forward by using Beth’s connections as president of the Biology Society at the University of Nottingham to spread the AFON message to as many young people as possible. One of the ideas we have discussed together is to hold a University Birdwatch Challenge on the campuses around Nottingham, contributing the data to BirdTrack.
The Entry: “My entry is various bits of art work in which the subject is an animal. They are done in different styles, with different materials including pen, pencil and chalks. I like to draw in my spare time and nature offers so many interesting subjects in fascinating shapes and amazing colours. If you’re lucky enough you can capture the spirit and character of an animal and that will really bring a drawing to life. I feel art is another way to inspire people and generate in them a passion for nature. The conservation movement needs support from all different areas. Through art it is possible to share the beauty of nature to those who may not be able to experience it for themselves and highlight the plight of many of those species threatened by extinction.
Anything to support your application: During my course at university I’ve studied a wide range of areas including behaviour and ecology. From the practical side of conservation I feel that knowledge of these areas is vital as without correct knowledge of the organism you are trying to save then efforts will fail. I’ve also taken specific modules on Conservation and Conservation Genetics. In these we considered different aspects of conservation, from giving a species an IUCN classification to how conservation can work with the help of the indigenous people. I’ve also had first-hand experience at field work as part of my course; I spent a week sampling the biodiversity of ground invertebrates in the peak district and two weeks studying various behaviours of two species of weevils in Portugal.
Top wildlife moment: Seeing my first seal when visiting Boscastle as part of a family holiday. We had climbed up onto some rocks at the end of the path and were watching the sea as it was rather rough that day. The seal surfaced twice for no longer then five seconds each time. There was no one else there to see it, just us, and if we’d lingered in the shops on the walk down any longer or had turned back when it had started spitting we’d have been completely oblivious to its presence in the water below us.
Favourite wildlife book/film/television programme/presenter: My first thought on reading this question was Tarka the Otter. I remember being absolutely captivated by the film as a small child and I wouldn’t move from in front of the tv until it was finished. I read the book not long after. I also remember absolutely loving The Animals of Farthing Wood, The Tales of Beatrix Potter and White Fang. I know they are works of fiction but as a child they helped fuel my passion for nature as much as anything.