A highlight of my role as an ecologist so far has been the variety of people I have worked with. From site operatives to school pupils, there’s always engaging conversations to be had about the natural environment.
As people become increasingly concerned about their local environment it is crucial that scientists, engineers, and those working in the environmental sector work together with local communities and showcase the innovative ways we can develop alongside nature. Community engagement can raise awareness of projects happening in real-time and empower people to get involved with the environmental sector in their local area.
No better people to start with than the next generation.
Much to our delight, my colleague Eilidh and I travelled to the beautiful town of Aberfeldy, where we visited a local school and community hub to share some stories of our work as ecologists and the nature we come across in the job. On behalf of our clients BAM Nuttall and SSEN working on the local Kinardochy substation reinforcement project, we created a programme of STEM related outreach activities. First stop was the primary school where we explored Scottish animals and habitats with primary 1 to 3s. We quickly learned that the pupils of Breadalbane are no strangers to Scottish wildlife. We were elated to see classes bouncing with excitement to share their recent wildlife encounters and children as young as 5 were naming lynx, Scottish wildcats, mountain hare, and wolves as their favourite animals. It just goes to show what having access to biodiverse surroundings can do.
In the afternoon we moved to the secondary school where we attended the Breadalbane community careers fayre. This was an opportunity for secondary pupils ages 13-16, and people from the surrounding area to see what careers are out there in the subjects that interest them. We received a lot of engagement from secondary pupils keen to put their species ID skills to the test with our quiz and chat with us about the potential routes into the environmental sector. As recent graduates, Eilidh and I were glad to share our advice to those struggling to find their path into STEM careers. It was great to get a chance to talk one-to-one with pupils interested in biology and conservation, many of whom hadn’t heard about or considered ecology as a career. We suspect we spotted a few budding ecologists among them, but more importantly we hope the pupils find their own path into a career they enjoy.
HEDltd have been involved in community outreach work for many of the projects we work on across the highlands, it’s a valuable way to bring together communities and developers. After a successful start to our outreach programme with Breadalbane Academy we are excited to say there is much more coming up in 2023.