A belated introduction to our 2018/19 graduate placements!

It’s now the fourth year that SNH has taken in graduates to work on year-long projects across the organisation. With three new graduates just starting in 2019, we take a look at what their projects entail and how they’re getting on.

2018-19 grad placements

Graduate training day, November 2018. L-R Alice Brawley, Rebecka Bergh, Marco Franzoi, Courtney Riley (no longer working), Gillian Maxwell, Rhona Smith, Caitlin Orr, Pauline Dusseau (no longer working), Heather Woodbridge, Ben Walker, Kieran Leigh-Moy, Kirstin McEwan. Absent; Emma Streatham

The SNH graduate placements tend to consist of six-month to year-long projects,  geared at those who have graduated from an academic course in the last few years and are looking to enhance their skillset with SNH. All opportunities are full-time and paid, and graduates are placed at SNH offices across Scotland.

So…let’s start by introducing the current graduates:

Rebecka Bergh (Perth) completed her BSc (Hons) in Environmental Management at Glasgow Caledonian University. She is now working with SNH on natural capital communications, which involves creating materials communicating the economic and social benefits of nature. The benefits nature provide are becoming more and more high profile, and there’s a need to show how the concepts relate to other topics such as climate change, circular economy, investment in nature, health and wellbeing. Rebecka aims to do this through infographics, briefings, social media, videos and case studies, while working closely with the communications team and the Scottish Forum on Natural Capital.

Alice Brawley (Perth) completed her MSc in Geographical Information Systems at Edinburgh University. She is now working on the Pollinator Strategy for Scotland. Her role focuses on producing guidance for the construction and planning sectors to encourage them to consider pollinator-friendly actions in future developments. The interdisciplinary project involves meeting with planners, developers, constructors and local authorities to create guidance, infographics, StoryMaps and videos. Alice also co-manages the pollinator blog and Twitter page, helped create the Living Wall at the Battleby office and is helping to make pollinator trails at five of our Natural Nature Reserves.

2019 grad placement - Alice

Alice helped to organise and plant the installation of a demonstration living wall at Battleby as part of her graduate role

Marco Franzoi (Edinburgh) works in the Finance, Strategy and Planning team to diversify the ways to invest in nature. The main task is to produce robust evidence of socioeconomic benefits from conservation work, while keeping in mind the importance of environmental benefits. He has been conducting research and gathering data over the last two months, working with various teams inside the organisation from Peatland Action to Green Infrastructure and Natural Capital.

Kieran Leigh-Moy (Inverness) recently graduated from an MSc in Forest & Nature Conservation from Wageningen University in the Netherlands, after spending some time working in the private sector, the Bavarian Forest National Park and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in Edinburgh. His project aims to improve the status of freshwater pearl mussels in the upper River Spey- where there are no recruiting populations. This involves reviewing the scientific literature to develop detailed guidelines to assess habitat quality. This protocol will then allow us to understand why pearl mussels are not recruiting, develop ways to restore mussels and hopefully identify possible reintroduction sites.

Tay Davies (Inverness) graduated from Lancaster with an MSci integrated Masters in Ecology & Conservation. His placement works closely with the Rare Invertebrates in the Cairngorms (RIC) project and focuses on filling knowledge gaps about the ecology and conservation of the dark bordered beauty moth, a species present at only three sites in Scotland, and one in England. Little is known about the specific habitat requirements, the dispersal ability, or the behaviour of this moth. So it’s Tay’s job to find out more, and develop habitat monitoring and management guidelines to maintain the best habitat. This role involves working with key players from SNH, RSPB, Butterfly Conservation, various landowners, and others to aid a concentrated conservation effort.

2018 grad placement - Tay

Tay at RSPB Insh Marshes near Kingussie, home to lots of aspen suckers for dark-bordered beauty moth caterpillars to eat

Gillian Maxwell (Inverness) is focussing on analysing SNH’s Human Resources reports to improve the way we do things. The data within these HR reports and the way the data has been gathered historically has made it difficult to analyse. This means SNH is potentially missing out on important information to improve work efficiency and spot opportunities to help plan for the future. Her job is to improve how reporting is carried out, how it is displayed and how it is communicated to the board, employees and the general public.

Kirstin McEwan (Clydebank) is a communications officer working on a diverse range of projects from creating social media and online content to social media reporting and building email newsletters. She is also currently involved in campaign work within the organisation, including the #GirlsGetOot Freshspace project and Scottish Outdoor Access Code. Kirstin has previously worked in roles covering environmental, conservation, communications and outreach, including the Edinburgh International Science Festival, Zero Waste Scotland, Home Energy Scotland and the British Science Association, alongside work as a freelance content creator. Returning to university as a mature student in 2017, Kirstin completed a Masters in Wildlife Biology and Conservation from Edinburgh Napier University with a Masters dissertation focused on the effectiveness of video content in conservation outreach.

Caitlin Orr (Inverness) is working to support and encourage community-led marine biodiversity surveys and monitoring in Scotland. Recognising the enthusiasm expressed by community groups, SNH, in partnership with Fauna & Flora International, has been looking at practical ways to support and engage coastal communities and local groups in the survey and monitoring of Scottish inshore waters. Caitlin will co-produce a handbook and supporting materials that will allow communities, local groups and individuals to undertake efficient and effective marine biodiversity monitoring and surveying in Scotland. Data collected can support better decision making for Scottish inshore waters and, through participation, connect more people in monitoring the biodiversity of our seas. Caitlin’s role is to coordinate and deliver the project, and provide policy and technical support.

Rhona Smith (Clydebank) is working within the Green Infrastructure Team, which delivers funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Green Infrastructure Strategic Intervention (GISI). Her role is to work with our project partners, internal staff and external partners to develop monitoring and evaluation plans. The current projects are in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. The main aim of her placement is to develop an evidence base for investing in green infrastructure, using the current projects as examples.

2018 grad placement - Rhona

Rhona Smith at a sod-cutting event for a GISI (Green Infrastructure Strategic Intervention) project at Greater Easterhouse with Glasgow City Council

Emma Steatham (Inverness) is working with SNH licensing team to explore the topic, ‘Strategic Approaches to Bat Licensing’. This project came about from the close working relationship the licensing team have developed with Aberdeenshire Council. The environmental planners have supplied SNH with all the bat survey data they have received for planning application submissions since 2012.  The aim is to review, map and analyse the bat survey data, with the help of colleagues within SNH, to look for potential patterns linking bat roost presence and absence to nearby habitat types, building types, etc.

Ben Walker (Oban) completed his MSc in Conservation and Biodiversity at the University of Exeter. He is now working with SNH’s sea eagle project team to collate and analyse evidence on the impact that sea eagles are having on hill sheep farms, and assess the effectiveness of management measures. This involves collaborating with a wide range of stakeholders, including scheme applicants, SNH contractors, NFU Scotland representatives, Forestry Commission staff and the RSPB. Ben will also undertake a literature review on best practice in how to manage sheep to mitigate sea eagle impacts, and ultimately produce a report to recommend measures that could be used in future agri-environment support schemes.

Heather Woodbridge (Kirkwall) Heather completed her BSc in Ecology from the University of Stirling in 2017 and began working for SNH in July 2018. Her current role is with the Orkney Native Wildlife Project (ONWP), which aims to eradicate invasive non-native stoats from the Orkney Archipelago. The project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the EU’s LIFE program and is now drawing to the end of its development stage. Heather’s role is to assist with all aspects of the project, including incursion responses to outer islands, monitoring the presence of stoats on outer islands and Orkney mainland biosecurity trapping work. In addition to the varied fieldwork, she is responsible for the managing the data about several islands, improving detection methods on these islands and managing volunteers.

2019 grad placements - Hoy

Late January in Hoy – winter conditions in which Heather and the ONWP team have been working in.

The graduates have had great starts to their placements, which are all contributing to helping Scotland’s nature. Many talk about how welcoming SNH is and how supportive other staff are. As part of the programme, graduates are encouraged to get to know each other and work together. They have already started the process of taking on extra projects to support SNH’s greening objectives and are arranging a graduate trip to one of Scotland’s NNRs. The programme offers fantastic opportunities for graduates to develop their environmental and conservation skills in a practical setting, and for SNH to obtain a network of enthusiastic, hard-working and driven individuals to take on short-term projects.

If you’re interested too find out about future graduate opportunities, visit https://www.nature.scot/about-snh/working-snh/work-snh

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