How are you using OPAL to make a difference in the community?
Living with Autism means I find working within the community challenging and it can be really problematic for me at times. Through the opportunities I have had to engage in community work with OPAL has helped me to develop my confidence in working with others, dealing with problems and working in large groups of people.
How did you first discover / get involved with OPAL?
I first got involved with OPAL through my gardening course at Newcastle College. OPAL came in to do a day’s bug hunting during my induction period which was great. After that, my course, OPAL and Seaton Burn Community College began working together to develop an overgrown and neglected piece of land into a nature reserve.
What do you enjoy most about using OPAL resources / what has been your favourite moment while using them?
I love using the OPAL resources because they’re so easy to use, the images are great and everything is laid out exactly as you need it. I have to say my favourite moment using the resources was when we were completing the bugs count survey at different areas of the nature reserve and we found two small tortoise shell butterflies and we went crazy trying to take photos!
Which is your favourite OPAL survey and why?
My favourite survey has to be the bugs count because I love getting my hands dirty, looking under rocks, moving things around and mooching around the woods.
Where is your favourite place to enjoy nature and why?
I can’t think of a single area, but I would have say, anywhere in the woods. I love being out in nature, I love the peace and tranquillity. I feel at home and comfortable in the woods.
What is the most interesting/ unusual/ beautiful plant or animal you’ve ever seen?
I was walking through Prudhoe Hall woods and I saw a Fallow doe and fawn walking through the fields. I felt surprised and excited to see them.
Who / what inspired you to work in your community?
My dad. He has always supported me and had an interest in getting me out and about outside of college and school. He has really pushed me to develop my confidence and team working skills. Through my dad’s encouragement I have been able to engage with the OPAL surveys and opportunities to meet new people who, like me, have an interest in going outdoors.
What advice would you give to people who want to encourage their communities to get involved in science and nature?
I would say, just do it! The OPAL guys are so enthusiastic and friendly and their buzz is infectious. I have helped loads of people in my college, even on other courses get involved with nature in some way or another. I feel really proud that I have been able to take part with these activities and would encourage anyone to have a go themselves.
Any funny stories from working with a group or any moments that made you proud?
All I can say is that I love working outdoors and what makes me proud is the fact I am able to talk to people and share my thoughts and opinions with people I otherwise would not have been able to before doing the surveys.
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 our Community Champions who are nominated by OPAL's team of Community Scientists from across the UK.