How are you using OPAL to make a difference in the community?
I have been using the OPAL resources at local primary schools, youth clubs, and local green projects. This has benefitted all involved and has educated them to have a wider range of knowledge of the outdoors and what grows and lives there.
How did you first discover/get involved with OPAL?
I started a new job in June 2014 as a Coastal Community Trainee with The Conservation Volunteers. We had staff training identifying trees and this is where I first saw and used the OPAL resources.
What do you enjoy most about using OPAL resources / what has been your favourite moment while using them?
When I was doing a session outdoors on worms with a local primary school it started to snow really heavy. The teacher said that it was too heavy to carry on with the session. The kids weren’t happy as they wanted to stay out in the snow and carry on with the session. One boy was crying as he didn’t want to go back inside to the classroom. He said it was much more fun looking for worms in the snow.
Which is your favourite OPAL survey and why?
My favourite OPAL pack is the Water Survey. I really enjoy the pond dipping and seeing what bugs I can find. My knowledge has been improved greatly. My greatest find was a dragonfly larva, which decided to shed its skin before my eyes. Wow it was so cool.
Where is your favourite place to enjoy nature and why?
My favourite place to enjoy nature is Gartmorn Dam, Sauchie. I live not far from it. It’s a beautiful place, very peaceful and always teeming with wildlife.
What is the most interesting/unusual/beautiful plant or animal you’ve ever seen?
Very recently I was watching a wildlife programme and the guy spotted a rare Slipper Orchid. It looked just like a ballerina's slipper, even looked like it had a wee ribbon to tie it. It blew my mind.
Who/what inspired you to work in your community?
When I was younger I feel there was more of a community where I live. People spoke to each other and helped each other out. I would like it to be more like the way it was. I try to do my bit for the community. I volunteer as a football coach and have done this for 8 years and I also volunteer at the local community centre.
What advice would you give to people who want to encourage their communities to get involved in science and nature?
I would really encourage communities to get involved with science and nature as it gets them outside into the fresh air. They can all chat to each other and make new friends. Everyone benefits from it and it makes where you stay a lot nicer place to live.
Any funny stories from working with a group or any moments that made you proud?
While doing a session at my old primary school a wee boy said he wanted to be like me when he grew up! To work with wild animals and to be a scientist. It put a smile on my face. Which isn’t easy.
About OPAL Community Champions
The OPAL Community Champions scheme aims to acknowledge the contribution made by individuals to the OPAL network, to thank people for their efforts, and to act as an inspiration for others.
Over the next few weeks and months we'll be profiling 20 Community Champions, nominated by OPAL's team of Community Scientists from across the UK.