Meet our 2016/17 graduate placements

Kerrie Craig, graduate placement in the Planning and Renewables unit introduces us to the SNH Graduate Placements 2016/2017.


The outgoing President Barack Obama famously said of young people that “they are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it”. Therefore I think it is very fitting that SNH provides fantastic opportunities for young people to work as part of an organisation at the heart of this commitment, and drive to achieve a sustainable future and support “all of nature for all of Scotland”. For the past four years SNH has provided graduate placement opportunities to recent university graduates as part of Scottish Government’s commitment to increase youth employment. So far eighteen graduates have conducted placements supporting a variety of important projects across SNH, with seven graduate positions this year alone.

The inaugural Graduate Induction Day took place in November in the Battleby office near Perth. This was an opportunity for all of this year’s graduate placements (who are based in offices across Scotland), as well as previous graduates who have since gained full time employment with SNH, to meet each other and share their experiences.


We had the opportunity to go on a site visit to nearby Stanley Mills and the River Tay (a Special Conservation Area). Not only was this a welcome break away from our desks, but it was a great opportunity to immerse ourselves in nature, stopping and appreciating how the natural heritage can deliver multiple benefits, considering the significance of SNH’s role in protecting and enhancing the environment and how encompassing our work is.

After warming up from the site visit, we prepared short presentations about the role of SNH in relation to the River Tay (making good use of the learning and development team’s props!). This gave us a really valuable perspective of SNH’s multiple roles and it was useful to consider how our own projects fitted in with this.


Finally, we had the great opportunity to listen to previous graduates who spoke about their placements, what they learned and what they are doing now. This was very beneficial as we learned some useful tips on how to make the most of our time at SNH such as training and mentoring opportunities, networking and work shadowing.

Watch this space in the following months where we will provide updates on our projects and give an insight into the life of a graduate placement in SNH. Below are some short profiles on each of us showing our diverse backgrounds and projects we are involved in, contributing to the great work that SNH does!



Hannah Archibald

Background: MA (Hons) Ancient History and Art History from the University of St Andrews and MSc Spatial Planning with Urban Conservation from the University of Dundee. I also have experience of working within the Development Plans and Regeneration Team at Dundee City Council as a summer student placement.

Job Title: Operations Support / Graduate Placement – Community Planning Project

Project: The focus of my project is on community planning and engagement. I am working with other SNH colleagues to develop local profiles for all 32 local authority community planning partnerships. These profiles focus on the natural heritage of an area and the opportunities and benefits it provides for local communities. They will also highlight potential in-roads for SNH staff to engage with community groups and local authorities. Something which I hope to be working on further down the line is the development of staff training materials on Community Planning. This project offers some scope to work with Local Authorities to explore the link between Spatial and Community Planning, my final task during my placement.


Kerrie Craig

Background: BSc (Hons) Geography and MSc Sustainable Resource Management from the University of Edinburgh. I have experience in environmental assessments and stakeholder engagement through a placement with ScottishPower Renewables and I also worked for the Met Office as data quality analyst.

Job Title: Graduate placement – Planning and Renewables

Project: I am involved in four projects during my placement alongside assisting with area casework, providing consultation responses for Habitat Regulations Appraisals (HRAs) and Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs). Firstly, I am gathering evidence on the repowering of wind farms to compile a report on lessons learnt for best practice. Secondly, I am considering the planning constraints and environmental impacts of increased telecommunication coverage in Scotland. Thirdly, I am identifying natural heritage advice in local development cases which fall below the threshold of SNH’s Service Level Delivery Agreement. My final project involves collaboration with other key agencies reviewing the effectiveness of Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEAs) and monitoring efforts in local development plans.


Kirsty Fisher

Background: Graduate of Sustainable Development MA with Geography from the University of Edinburgh. My dissertation focussed on local-scale adaptation to climate change using a case study of ‘artificial glaciers’ in Ladakh, Northern India.

Job Title: Graduate Placement – NNR Communications

Project: My role within the NNR Team is to help increase the online profile of SNH’s National Nature Reserves and promote the work delivered through them in engaging people with nature. I am focussing on various social media platforms to ensure that the information available on NNRs is correct, appealing and informative, as well as exploring new ways to engage more people both in SNH’s work and in the benefits of spending time in nature.

jennaJenna Lane

Background: B.Sc. (Honours) Marine Biology from Heriot-Watt University. My dissertation was an investigation into the effects of temperature and CO2 on the growth of the marine phytoplankton Tisochrysis lutea and any synergistic interactions with copper toxicity. Then followed an M.Sc. Wildlife Biology and Conservation from Edinburgh Napier University where my dissertation investigated the impact of cliff-top visitors and boats on the nesting success of black-legged kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla) at St Abbs Head National Nature Reserve.

Job Title: Graduate placement – Operations Officer – Species Dossiers

Project: I am working within the SNH Licensing Team and my role is to develop a series of species dossiers for all of the European Protected Species found in Scotland. Each dossier will include: basic ecological information, population information, conservation status, relevant legislation, licensing information, threats and their impact, implications of findings on current licensing procedure, knowledge gaps, and opportunities.

sarahSarah Macdonald-Smart

Background: I graduated from the University of Glasgow in 2012 with a BSc (Hons) in Zoology. I have work and volunteer experience in protected species surveying and environmental consultancy with a particular interest in EIA processes and analysis and non-native species.

Job title: Graduate placement – Mitigation Monitoring on A9/A96 Dualling Projects

Project: I am working on a joint project funded by Transport Scotland and housed by SNH focusing on the A9 and A96 dualling projects. The aim of my project is to establish a monitoring protocol that could be used to test the effectiveness of species mitigation measures post construction. I am also going to outline the decision-making process used to create the monitoring protocol with the aim of it being used to design similar studies for other infrastructure projects.

niamh-2Niamh O’Driscoll

Background: BSc (Hons) Tourism Management and MSc Environment, Heritage and Policy from the University of Stirling. My MSc. dissertation focussed on legislation related to deer management and Scotland’s natural heritage. I’ve worked in a range of organisations mainly in marketing but have also done some community development work. 

Job Title: Graduate placement – Internal Communications

Project: I will be working on three projects: making the most of our intranet; embedding of our Vision, Mission and Values; and the review of the editorial approach to our staff newsletter Update.


matthewMatthew Smedley

Background: B.Sc. (Honours) Marine Biology from the University of Aberdeen. My dissertation was Carbon sources into the Ythan Estaury, marine or terrestrial dominated. Then followed an M.Sc. Marine Resource Development and Protection where my dissertation was The effects of warming and hypoxia on horse mussels, does response change with population?

Job Title: Graduate placement – Policy and Advice Support – Contingency Planning Project

Project: I am working in conjunction with several units on the development of contingency plans for ecosystem foundations against environmental change. This will involve selecting species or processes which we deem to play a significant role in the welfare of a high number of other species and whose loss could cause a cascade of further species losses. Plans will then be developed to protect these species against future environmental change including threats such as invasive species, climate change, and pollution.

Our graduate placement opportunities are advertised through universities and through our careers site:

You can read about one of our previous graduate placements’ experiences in her blog here.



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