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7 Jun 2018

Insights from the outside

Written by Johnny Wells & Pauline Thompson
Students Akua and Jazz with working holiday leader Johnny Wells on the Ben Lomond hillside.
Alumni of the University of Edinburgh who now work with the Trust are being linked with current students to allow them to gain an insight into conservation.

University of Edinburgh aims for these students to gain:

  • An insight into possible career pathways and an awareness of just how many different opportunities will be open to them when they graduate
  • A chance to recognise and develop their skills
  • A network of new contacts
  • A new outlook and perspective on the world

Our working holiday leader, Johnny Wells, is supporting these aims by encouraging current students to explore careers that may be slightly different from their degree.

Akua and Jazz on Ben Lomond
Akua and Jazz on Ben Lomond, where they repaired deer fence markings to help reduce bird collisions

Johnny graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a Social Work degree in 2008 and is now in his third season working for the Trust. During his time at university, he spent academic holidays volunteering with a variety of conservation organisations as a way to explore Scotland. He worked for six years with Barnardo’s as a community worker supporting primary age children, and brought a breadth of conservation and social work experience with him when he joined the Trust in 2016.

Johnny was keen to get involved: ‘My own career journey was not a straight line into working in the outdoors. Along the way I’ve been given a huge amount of support by others. They encouraged me to try and try again with new experiences, and shared a wealth of knowledge. This programme was a small way I could give something back as a thank you.’

Akua and Jazz helping Fraser McKechnie (Seasonal Ranger at Ben Lomond) fix a straining post for a new wire fence to keep cattle out of an area on the grazing land
Akua and Jazz helping Fraser McKechnie (Seasonal Ranger) fix a straining post for a new wire fence

First year student Jazz Binding (studying Graphic Design) and second year Akua Crankson (studying Medicine) joined Johnny on a Ben Lomond working holiday for two days. On the first day they worked with the volunteer group to build new stock fencing to protect trees and wildflowers from the Galloway cattle. On the second day they hiked high into the cloud to add marking canes to the deer fencing of a new tree enclosure, to help reduce bird collisions.

Marking a deer fence to help reduce bird collisions
Marking a deer fence to help reduce bird collisions

When asked about their experience at Ben Lomond, Jazz said: ‘It has been great getting to know everyone, chat with the range of people that have been on the camp and share a cuppa with them’. Akua added: ‘It has really opened my eyes to the environment around me. I never felt more close to nature and I have gained skills I will carry with me for the rest of my life. Thank you so much.’

This placement was one of 13 that the university organised for 25 students this year. We hope the Trust will continue to be involved for years to come so we can share our love of Scotland with many more students.

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