Hazlerigg, Newcastle upon Tyne
How are you using OPAL to make a difference in the community?
We are developing the school nature reserve for more of Seaton Burns students and the local primary school children to use, enjoy and learn from.
Chris Madine (OPAL's Community Scientist in Newcastle) and my teacher Mrs Long have helped and supported me and the rest of the class.
We have been completing our John Muir Award in the Nature Group at school to develop the nature reserve.
I personally have also presented the work of the Nature Group to the school governors, supported the Year 6 students with transition to secondary school on the three open days and escorted parents around the nature reserve when the reserve was officially opened by Paul Moody from the BBC.
When I escorted the visitors around the nature reserve I explained what work in the reserve I had been involved with over the academic year - talking about the OPAL surveys - tree, insect, pond-dipping, soil analysis.
I also explained about the hibernaculum that I was involved in creating, where I helped plant wild flowers to attract insects, set up bird feeders, bat boxes and how I helped clear rubbish and tidy up the nature reserve with the support of other volunteer groups.
In the classroom I helped the Year 6 transition students make an insect nest, and gather information on the nature reserve, e.g. tree species present and identifying invertebrates.
How did you first discover/ get involved with OPAL?
Mrs Long, my teacher, introduced us to Chris Madine at OPAL. He has helped us discover the nature reserve by completing the different surveys.
What do you enjoy most about using OPAL resources/ what has been your favourite moment while using them?
Being able to learn outdoors is great.
We have learnt about lots of different plant and animal species - trees, insects, bats and pond creatures.
We have learnt about how clean our pond is (very!), we have dug a hibernaculum, made bird feeders and built bat boxes.
One of the best things was going to the Farne Islands to see the different birds and seals - we had a great time.
Which is your favourite OPAL survey and why?
We all enjoyed pond dipping on the Water Survey to discover what we had in the pond - midge larvae, mayfly and caddisfly, newts and frogs as well as water slaters and pond skaters.
One of the first surveys was discovering all the tree species in the nature reserve on the Tree Health Survey when we discovered 'Dave' a friendly Ash tree that we regularly check up on to see what he looks like at different times of the year.
Where is your favourite place to enjoy nature and why?
Windermere in the Lake District because the hills and lakes are great and its nice to be outdoors enjoying the fresh, clean air.
What was the most interesting/unusual/beautiful plant or animal you've ever seen?
A Puffer Fish - it was really weird but interesting.
Who/what inspired you to work in your community?
Mrs Long, Chris Madine and my family.
What advice would you give to people who want to encourage their communities to get involved in science and nature?
Enjoy it by making it fun learning, the OPAL surveys were easy to follow and gave us loads of information about our nature reserve. They weren't complicated so it made it easy to learn.
Any funny stories from working with a group or any moments that made you proud?
Finding a tiny frog which we named Timmy and discovering and naming 'Dave' the Ash tree, these were the funny moments.
My proudest was achieving my John Muir Bronze Award and being able to explain who John Muir was by creating an information board.
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.