Shagufta & Hadrien Hadife
How are you using OPAL to make a difference in the community?
We are using OPAL to make a difference in the community by participating and volunteering in various activities that range from carrying out surveys with children and other varied age groups as well as running activity stalls at various events such as the annual Nottingham University Picnic in the Park.
How did you first discover/get involved with OPAL?
Our lecturer introduced it to us when we expressed an interest in volunteering. From there we were in contact with Sarah and ended up volunteering for a few activities.
What do you enjoy most about using OPAL resources / What has been your favourite moment while using them?
We find the survey packs to be excellent, they are simple and yet convey plenty of useful information to help people along with the surveys. It’s particularly nice when people express great interest in completing more themselves after demonstrations and even more so when teachers we meet want to implement this in their own lessons.
Which is your favourite OPAL survey and why?
Our favourite OPAL survey is the pond survey; this is because it is the one we have had most success with it in terms of finding different animals. Having varied specimens to show to the people undertaking a pond survey always gets them really motivated to see what they can find which is always fun.
Where is your favourite place to enjoy nature and why?
Our favourite place to enjoy nature is any nature reserve that is nearby. In our case, the Attenborough Nature Reserve is really great to spend the day.
What is the most interesting/unusual/beautiful plant or animal you’ve ever seen?
Hadrien: Probably a praying mantis, it’s my favourite insect and you don’t really see it in the UK but I went to Lebanon in August and saw one in the wild, it just looks really cool.
Shagufta: We once found some young great crested newts during an OPAL activity day and they were quite fascinating! We had a male with the bright orange belly and a (very!) pregnant female! It was great to see them, especially since they’re an endangered species.
Who/what inspired you to work in your community?
As students we were looking for different things to do related to biology and through Hadriens’ tutor we got in touch with OPAL and subsequently got more engaged in various volunteering opportunities. The experiences we had were the main driver for continuing to work in the community through OPAL.
What advice would you give to people who want to encourage their communities to get involved in science and nature?
We would say find relevant information through different avenues (i.e. Search engine enquiries, local library, local educational establishments and so on). What is really cool is that today it is a lot easier to find information, so start looking and as soon as you find it start contacting the relevant individuals involved and start from there.
Any funny stories from working with a group or any moments that made you proud?
Hadrien: A great moment for me was when we worked with a group of young carers. I think this was my first time volunteering at an OPAL activity. Seeing the variety of people taking part was really interesting and we got to meet amazing people which all, in their own way, got involved in various surveys. Had a lot of fun that day and could tell everyone was having a blast.
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.