Hello to all and welcome to my blog for the coming year, where I hope to provide interesting insights into the world of a Natural Networks trainee. I’m Nik and will be based with the Cumbernauld Living Landscape for the coming twelve months. This is a wide portfolio of projects all based around Cumbernauld and ran from the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s office. My full title is ‘Natural Networks Trainee: Community Networks Officer’: a rather broad and vague enough title to be extremely exciting. Basically, I will be working with the local community, trying to figure out ways of engaging them with their greenspaces (did you know, Cumbernauld’s 50% green?) I will particularly be focused on a Green Routes project, aimed at bringing more biodiverse avenues into the city centre and raising awareness on a Community Growth area to ensure the environment is considered during planning. I am sure given the diverse and busy nature of my role this will develop as I go on, but I guess a little more information about me might be useful to help place this traineeship into context.
I’ve spent a lot of time outdoors in my life, being forced into camping and hillwalking from a young age by an enthusiastic mother. Luckily, I too developed a love of green places and started rock climbing, mountain biking and generally being outdoors. I can’t confess to really having a deeper understanding of the environment at this point; but volunteering and working with organisations like The Duke of Edinburgh Award and local outdoor charities led me to a Master’s degree in Outdoor Education. This was perhaps the key turning point for my understanding of the environment and the way in which I engaged with it: no longer a place for me to do activities, I wanted to understand how it worked, why people did or didn’t value it and how to encourage others to develop their own personal relationship with the outdoors.
I’ve done a lot of volunteering with various groups like The National Trust and the RSPB and I see this traineeship as a continuation of that, with the opportunity to pull in learning from my Master’s degree. I have so much to learn this year and I am really looking forward to developing how I try to generate interest in overlooked urban greenspace. However, first and foremost, an exploration! I’ve been part of, and led expeditions around the world, but delving deeper into the environment and communities of Cumbernauld presents the biggest adventure yet. I’m spending the coming weeks getting out and about to get to know the sites I will be working on, and I’m very fortunate to have Tracy, a trainee from last year’s Community Networks cohort, as my guide.
So, here’s to an exciting and challenging new year!