Peter Coles

BSc Conservation Biology and Ecology - Cornwall

What has been the highlight of your time at Exeter?

All three years at University have been fantastic, so it’s a bit hard to choose. However, the third year field trip to Costa Rica was perhaps the best. The variety of the field course topics, coupled with the enthusiasm of the staff members, made the trip so special and allowed for not just academic learning, but also catered for individuals to indulge in their personal interests. For me, this was photography, which incorporated into the social media campaign promoting the field courses. I was also very lucky to receive the Award for Photography at this year’s ceremony, which further added to the brilliant experience.

What will you miss the most about university?

I will miss the NatureWatch film project that I, and a group of friends, set up. We produced four episodes in the first year of the project (one per season) and I am very sad to be leaving it behind. However thanks to the project’s success we have been able to cast a new crew and presenters to carry on making this BBC Springwatch esque series, alongside some of the current crew, who are staying on to complete Masters degrees. It was brilliant to see a project through from an idea to reality, which has now been recognised by the likes of Gordon Buchanan and BBC Springwatch, as well as to be able to film pieces starring Chris Packham, George McGavin and Nick Baker. I’ll greatly miss the whole crew of NatureWatch who made the project such fun to be a part of.

What did you enjoy about your particular programme?

I enjoyed the mixture of field and lab-based study that this programme allows. The flexibility of modules means that whatever your interests there is scope to develop that aspect. Additionally the variety of topics gives a valuable insight into potential areas of research as well as career options.

What advice would you give to current and future students?

My advice would be to follow the cliché of ‘getting stuck in’.  In my first year, I applied for a position on the EcoSoc committee, which I never really thought I’d get but to my surprise I did, and subsequently was elected President of the society. It was this that allowed me to be so involved in creating NatureWatch, as well as affording me great opportunities, such as deciding to run a residential trip to Lundy Island to survey the wildlife there, and to trigger the start of a lengthy process to have a wildlife pond built on campus. I don’t feel I’d be able to have had these experiences if I hadn’t joined the society and so my advice would be to get involved, even if you don’t feel capable and to try to get other people interested in your ideas.

What are your plans now that you have graduated?

I plan to work with the National Trust as a Ranger for the next couple of years, and possibly move into Ecological Consultancy.