At BTME this year, five BIGGA members got the opportunity to attend the Continue to Learn education programme thanks to BIGGA partners, ICL.
The scholarship gave each of the members access to 15 hours of education, and three nights’ hotel accommodation.
Now, five months after their trip to Harrogate, we caught up with two of the scholars; Simon Pyett, greenkeeper at Halesworth, and Daniel Ashelby, assistant greenkeeper at Wilmslow, to see how the ICL Continue to Learn Scholarship has impacted upon their daily working lives.
What was the experience of being a scholar at Continue to Learn and BTME like?
Chris: I found the whole thing very rewarding. Right at the start the application process made me consider several things about where I was and where I wanted to go in greenkeeping, through to carefully choosing from a vast amount of workshops and seminars to maximise the opportunity and tailor it to what would be of most benefit to me. The education experience at Continue to Learn was fantastic, and sharing with other greenkeepers from all walks of life really extended the learning. BTME itself was eye‑opening in its scale. Being my first visit, the buzz about the place and the industry, meeting people I did and didn’t know, and the sense of belonging to something bigger than we are aware of on a day‑to‑day basis really had an impact on me.
Daniel: Being an ICL Continue to Learn scholar is a very busy experience. You are provided with 15 hours of educational sponsorship over three days, as well as social experiences meeting the other scholars and sponsors.In addition to this there are many interesting BTME exhibitions to see and networking opportunities
in your own time during the evenings. The experience is very immersive and offers fantastic learning opportunities and is highly motivational to aspiring greenkeepers.
How did the scholarship help your enjoyment of Continue to Learn this year?
Chris: It really freed me up to enjoy the whole thing without having to worry about too much else. My circumstances meant I wasn’t really in the position to have been able to attend without the scholarship, so it was an opportunity too good to miss. ICL were very hospitable and looked after us and took the time to talk to us and understand our situations too, which stood out to me. We even received a free coat!
Daniel: The ICL scholarship made the experience very helpful. I was able to attend many events which caught my interest and was given accommodation close to the exhibition halls. We were invited to meals with our sponsors, who were very interested to hear about career progression and wanted to hear our opinions on the scholarship and how to improve it further. The financial support meant you could fully experience what BTME has to offer and make the most of the annual event.
Since the event, how has the experience you gained as a scholar helped you back at your club, in your daily working life?
Chris: It has given me something somewhere between a re‑invigoration and a kick up the backside! I feel more confident that I have something worthwhile to contribute and am also keen to learn as much as I can from others to fill in some of the gaps in my knowledge. I have been able to give feedback on some of the topics that we looked at in the Continue to Learn education sessions, and some of the things I wanted to investigate while at BTME, such as bunker linings.
Daniel: The experience I have gained from my scholarship has been invaluable. My club was very pleased I was able to represent them academically. The knowledge I have acquired has changed my outlook as a greenkeeper and I have been able to apply it during my work on a daily basis. Additionally courses I have undertaken have contributed to my college work and helped progress my qualification completion more swiftly.
Do you believe being an ICL scholar has helped with your career aspirations?
Chris: Yes, very much so. I attended a personal career benchmark session and it was especially helpful in thinking through the direction in which I want to be heading, and how best to go there. I want to continue to develop my knowledge, practice and experience with similar events and opportunities as I had through BIGGA and ICL’s generosity. Following the Continue to Learn scholarship I am now certain that my passion for ecology and nature can sit squarely alongside my passion for greenkeeping with no conflict, and I would love to be at the leading edge of such an approach to greenkeeping going forwards.
Daniel: I believe the ICL scholarship is aimed at greenkeepers who already have an interest in the industry and want to further their career. The scholarship helps aspiring greenkeepers achieve their goals, helps greenkeepers interact with knowledgeable people and network with other like‑minded individuals. It helps open the door to new opportunities
and helps develop scholars’ burgeoning interests into promising careers.
Would you like to be an ICL Scholar?
Applications for the ICL Scholarship 2019 will open in August. For more information on the scheme, visit https://www.bigga.org.uk/education/scholarships/icl-continue-to-learn-scholarship.html