Community Champion: Keith Walker

Keith Walker
Mid-Nithsdale, Dumfriesshire

How did you first hear about or come across OPAL?

At the Scottish Learning Festival in September 2014.

What made you want to use/work with the OPAL project in particular?

It looked like, and indeed is, a great way to deliver a variety of curricular topics outdoors.

What do you enjoy most about using the OPAL resources/What has been your favourite part of working with OPAL?

OPAL resources are well thought through and well produced, do not require lots of specialist equipment, enthuse those using them, tie in well with the ideas surrounding Citizen Science and facilitate interdisciplinary learning.

Which is your favourite OPAL survey and why?

Soil and earthworms. This survey can be used with a variety of ages and can be done almost anywhere. 

How are you using OPAL to make a difference in your area?  

As an authority we have trained teachers in the delivery of the materials, and used it with a variety of primary and secondary schools. The surveys raise awareness of environmental issues (e.g. New Zealand flatworms) which have a local resonance. The surveys are also allowing teachers to deliver Curriculum for Excellence outcomes in an innovative way.

What is special about the area and/or community you work in?

We are lucky in Dumfries and Galloway to have a large amount of green space with easy access to wild places and wildlife. With such a rich mix of landscapes and a high level of biodiversity, it really is a special place to work in.

Is there a person, place or animal that inspired you to work outdoors or with nature?

Yes, my lecturer at University (Dr Iain Taylor) and the area around Lochnagar in the Highlands.

Do you have a favourite animal, plant or fungi and what makes it your favourite?

I really like the corvids, and if I had to choose one, it would be the crow. They are the “Black Parrots” of the Scottish landscape.

What advice would you give to encourage others to get involved in science outdoors?

Outdoors science offers up so many opportunities for investigation and is “real” in a way that work in a lab rarely is.  

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.