Community Champion: Kiani Perera

Kiani PereraKiani Perera
Wrexham, North Wales

How are you using OPAL to make a difference in the community?

I use OPAL by assisting Iwan - who is the North Wales Wildlife Trust's OPAL Community Scientist - with carrying out the six OPAL surveys, with schools around North Wales. I teach these young children about our environment and why it is so important for us to look after it.

How did you first discover/get involved with OPAL?

I discovered OPAL when I was emailing loads of organisations looking for work experience, when I came across the OPAL website. I was draw to the aims of this particular citizen science project, and emailed Iwan.

What do you enjoy most about using OPAL resources / what has been your favourite moment while using them?

My favourite moments have to be when we are carrying out a soil test with a bunch of girls and boys. Parents are always shocked that their children don’t mind getting their hands dirty with digging a hole, or touching worms to identify them. The interest the children have with getting involved is the best part of working with OPAL.  

Which is your favourite OPAL survey and why?

It’s hard to choose what my favourite OPAL survey is, but if I had to choose it would be the Water Survey. This is because I find it so exciting sieving a net through a pond and not knowing what creatures I am going to find in my tray. 

Where is your favourite place to enjoy nature and why?

It’s tough to just narrow it down just one place that I enjoy nature, as its beautiful anywhere. The whole of North Wales is a beautiful, tranquil place that is home to so many interesting creatures. I particularly like nature reserves where I can walking through different trees and plants, quietly listening to the birds around me. 

Paradise flycatcher

What is the most interesting / unusual / beautiful plant or animal you’ve ever seen?

The most interesting, unusual, beautiful animal I’ve ever seen, has to be a ‘Sari Kurula’, which translates to Sari Bird [a.k.a. the Paradise Flycatcher]. It’s a gorgeous bright-coloured bird found in Sri Lanka, where I lived for a while. It has long vibrant feathers hanging down its elongated body and sings the most beautiful tune to attract a mate. Truly captivating.

Who/what inspired you to work in your community?

What inspired me to work in my community, was the fact that I learnt children were being diagnosed with scurvy, due to lack of sunlight. I wanted to try and encourage children to come and learn about the wonderful outdoors. 

What advice would you give to people who want to encourage their communities to get involved in science and nature?

OPAL is a great tool to get people outside and really enjoying the natural world, as well as learning new things.

Any funny stories from working with a group or any moments that made you proud?

I think the funniest thing that happens quite often, is the look on people’s faces; when we are outside with a group of children gently stomping our feet on the ground, imitating a bird trying to get a worm to pop out.  

Follow Kiani on Facebook: @kiki.pfc2

About OPAL Community Champions

The OPAL Community Champions scheme aims to acknowledge the contribution made by individuals to the OPAL network, to thank people for their efforts, and to act as an inspiration for others.

Over the next few weeks and months we'll be profiling 20 Community Champions, nominated by OPAL's team of Community Scientists from across the UK.