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Kickstarting a Conservation Career

William Sim has recently started as Cairngorms Connect Communications Assistant,  through the Kickstart scheme. In this blog, he looks back at his first month working for the UK's largest habitat restoration project, and what he hopes to achieve. 

My name is William Sim and growing up in the Cairngorms National Park has given me a deep-rooted love for nature and the great outdoors.

I am definitely an outdoorsy person and have always loved skiing and walking in my spare time. After school I was unsure about where I wanted to go in life, and I went to college without having my heart truly set on a specific career path. After taking a practical science course and experiencing working with the environment, I fell in love with being able to put my childhood passion into a career; caring for the mountains and rivers that have cared for me my whole life.

I am a true believer of how powerful communication can be. Being able to effectively communicate to people and share our individual experiences is an important skill to learn, especially since every single person has a different background and story to tell.  

Landscape photo showing a river and landscape blanketed in snowImage (above): My local walk along the River Conglass at this time of year, blanketed in snow. Credit: William Sim.

I chose the role of Communications Assistant because it connected my passions and experience. I enjoy working with IT and social media, but also love the great outdoors, so working in this role with Cairngorms Connect lets me combine these two in the same job.

Through this role I am determined to show off my strengths and gather some new ones along the way. Landscape-scale habitat restoration is something that is so much bigger than myself, and not only do I have a passion for nature, but I want to help as many people as possible to find their own reason to support the natural world and make a difference.

Working as a Communications Assistant has already given me many opportunities to learn and experience new things. Growing up in the Cairngorms National Park, I have always loved the area around me but working with nature breathes new life into the already breath-taking outdoors. In my time spent with the Cairngorms Connect team I have been amazed at how enthusiastic and determined people are to make a difference in the environment. I am quickly learning to share the hopeful outlook of Cairngorms Connect and all of its partners.

Earlier this month I helped out with a deadwood survey, as part of the Cairngorms Connect Science and Monitoring work. It was really interesting to uncover the science behind the scenes and be immersed in a beautiful forest, learning what needs to be done to help shape a healthy future for nature.

Getting to see these familiar forests and hills in a new light has enchanted the already stunning landscape. I ate my lunch on the forest floor and felt so relaxed looking up at the powerful yet calm trees towering over me - until I had to get a tick off of me the next day!

Wokring on tree cameraV2Image (above):  Working with cameras as part of the Cairngorms Connect monitoring work. Credit: Ellie Dimambro-Denson.  

Last week, I headed out with Ellie, the Cairngorms Connect Monitoring Officer, to check the camera traps which are designed to monitor the effects of the restoration work on floodplains, peatlands and rivers.

We went to Feshiebridge first and walked through the woods to the first camera overlooking the river. The walk was boggy and windy, but also very peaceful. The cameras need to have their SD cards and batteries changed every two months to keep them running,  and give the team a chance to process the recorded data and review the findings.  At Kingussie there were two cameras overlooking the river,  carefully watching it's flood patterns and monitoring any changes taking place. These were harder to get to, and we had to wade through a stream to access them! Once there it was easy enough to change over the SD card and set it up and running again. We got there just as the sun was setting and headed for home just before it got dark! 

In my first month I also joined a wildlife tour with Speyside Wildlife, which was extraordinary! I learned so much about our local area and wildlife as well as learning some new tricks to identify raptors. Red kites flew over my head as I spotted golden eagles soaring through the distance, framed by beautiful mountain views and glimmering lochs.

a red kite, a large bird of prey in flight.Image (above): Red kite, Milvus milvus, adult in flight. Credit: Norman Norris (rspb-images.com)

Cairngorms Connect has already given me some truly memorable and exciting experiences that will be great to bring into my future career and personal life, and I hope to be able to give something back in my time here. I have been given a taste of the unlimited possibilities of the future and I intend to put all my effort into making the most of it.

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Dec 16, 2021

Robbie Synge, Elizabeth Reeder and Amanda Thomson are artists in residence with Cairngorms Connect, through the Endangered Landscape Artist Residency. They chatted with Sydney, Communications and Involvement Manager, about their work and residency, and our relationships with art, the environment and each other.