Students Staff

08 October 2008

Students get a lesson in bushcraft from wilderness expert

Colchester Campus

(left to right) Khondker Tauseef Rashid, Daniel Pratt, and Maria Michaelides

Students from the University of Essex have spent a day learning Ray Mears-style survival skills in the wilderness of Wivenhoe woods to enrich their academic studies of the environment. 

The group of eleven postgraduate students were joined by three members of staff from the Department of Biological Sciences for the day-long event run by survivalist and bush craft expert Annette Stickler.

The course involved learning key bush craft skills including fire building and lighting, whittling, knife work and sharpening, and how to prepare and cook fish over a camp fire. The students also learnt about local tree and plant species, including how to make string from nettles.

All the students that took part are studying for either an MSc in Marine Biology or an MSc in Environment, Science and Society. Dr Sarah Pilgrim of the Centre for Environment and Society explained why going out into the wild is relevant to the students’ courses: ‘We spend a lot of time teaching the students about humans having a connection with nature, but going in to the woods gave them the chance to actually feel and build upon that connection in their local environment.’

When asked what they enjoyed most about the course, students said: ‘being outside and learning;’ working as a team and learning skills that very few people do;’ and ‘making the fire, nettle stings, being outdoors, all of it!’

Annette Stickler has been teaching bush craft for nine years through her company Campfire Skills. She has travelled the world furthering her knowledge and has spent time in some of the most remote areas on the planet. These include the Atacama desert in the Andes (Peru) and salt flats in Bolivia. She has led courses for Ray Mears as a seasonal instructor and is a regular columnist for Bushcraft and Survival Skills magazine.

For further information please contact the University of Essex communications office on 01206 874377 or e-mail

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