Heather Young tells us about her experience of working with Fife Coast and Countryside Trust as an intern.
Tell us about yourself
I’m entering my second year of my MSc in Wildlife and Conservation Management at SRUC (Scotland’s Rural College). I hope to find work with an organisation like Fife Coast and Countryside Trust to put my new skills and enthusiasm for nature to good use. Being a new mother, as well as a conservation student, I want to enter a career that allows me to make a difference, especially locally, that will allow my daughter to grow up and connect and appreciate the beautiful natural landscape around her.
Why did you join FCCT?
Since my first week of studies at SRUC, FCCT has been on my radar as a local organisation where I’d be interested in working when I finish studying. The Trust’s variety of work means that I experienced all aspects of working with people and nature, from volunteer sessions to patrols to practical habitat management. This makes the Trust a unique organisation to work for and learn from.
What have you learned?
The wealth of skills and information I’ve learned has been invaluable. I was in the Access and Recreation team and each member has their own niche. This meant no two days were the same and every team member was able to share different knowledge. We carried out patrols across Fife, connecting with communities, answering people’s queries, litter picking and carrying out small maintenance tasks. Volunteer days meant connecting with other like-minded people while learning new skills, such as through Tree Warden events. Having the chance to work with new tools such as strimmers and Aebi machines for grassland management has given me a greater appreciation for the work that goes into maintaining certain habitats.
Did anything surprise or particularly challenge you?
I was unsure how I would fare physically as I’m a new mum with an eight-month-old. This was my biggest surprise and challenge. My fitness was definitely challenged, and I surprised myself by being able to keep up. I was determined not to let it hold me back and, if I was struggling, the team were very encouraging. The other big surprise for me was going to places I have been many, many times, and discovering things I would never have found on my own – such as seeing a scorpionfish in a rock pool at Black Sands.
What impressions have you been left with?
I have always thought that Fife is quite a special place. We are very fortunate to have beautiful beaches, rolling countryside, and hills with sprawling views worth the climb. FCCT have always done a fantastic job of looking after these special places for everyone to enjoy. Being able to peek behind the curtain has shown me just how much hard work and dedication the staff put in each day. The team were all really friendly and had a great camaraderie that made it easy to feel part of.
Heather is pictured above with fellow interns Matt Bentall (left) and Lee Nesbitt.