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Danielle Wins National Forest Job

Tuesday, 30th October 2007

Danielle Wins National Forest Job

The National Forest Company has appointed 23 year old Danielle Lea-Smith to the new one year post of Graduate Forestry Officer.

She joins the Company after graduating this summer with a BSc in Forestry from the University of Wales, Bangor, a four year course which included a year working for the Forestry Commission at Thetford Forest in East Anglia.

Danni accounts for her slightly unusual career choice due to a fortuitous work experience placement at Cannock Chase in Staffordshire, and regards her subsequent success as a combination of hard work and a series of lucky chances.

A tomboy at heart, she repeatedly wrecked her school uniform climbing trees and playing in the 'swamp' next door to her home. It was her mother who suggested she try 'something outdoors' when looking for work experience.

So in the forest at Cannock Chase aged fifteen she was planting trees, restocking saplings – "and growing very substantial blisters!" Each year since then she has been welcomed back to help sell Christmas trees at the Visitor Centre, when the staff are all so busy "you're lucky to drink your tea before it gets iced over!"

Encouraged by staff with whom she worked at Cannock, Danni decided to study Forestry at university. In her placement year at Thetford Forest she gained her chainsaw licence, carried out assessments of the woodland and supervised the harvesting gang. She also worked with the recreation team at High Lodge Visitor Centre, which covered everything from managing cycle trails to running concerts.

At the National Forest Company Danni's role will be to help monitor sites across the 200 square miles of the multi-purpose National Forest. She will also work on a major programme of tree planting events, when members of local communities in the Forest, and businesses and individuals from all over the country, come to the Forest to plant trees.

"It feels like another case of being in the right place at the right time," says Danni. "It's the first such post offered by the National Forest Company and I am really excited to have been appointed. I'm looking forward to working with many of the people who make The National Forest the special place it is – and learning new skills to take with me in the future."

"Danni is going to be a great asset to the National Forest Company and will be helping us to ensure that quality is maintained on woodland sites," commented Simon Greenhouse, Woodland Officer for the NFC. "I am sure she will fit in well with the team and her personality and affinity with people will prove invaluable at our busy planting events."