Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Summer in the Scottish Highlands

In   May this year Sea Champion Emilie stepped into the role of MCS Information Officer based at the Glenmorangie Distillery in Tain. Here she tells us about her action packed summer as MCS’s most northerly member of staff.

Introducing the role

The Dornoch Firth Information Officer role is based at the Glenmorangie Distillery just outside the Royal Burgh of Tain in the Highlands, set along the beautiful shores of the Dornoch Firth. The role is funded by the Glenmorangie whiskey company as part of the Dornoch Environmental Enhancement Project (DEEP), run in partnership with the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) and Heriot Watt University. The distillery benefits from 20,000 national and international visitors each summer and my role was to engage with visitors about the work and core messages of MCS as well as get out into the local community to deliver education workshops and run beach cleans.

A bit about my background

I started out planning to work in coastal tourism, however, during my undergraduate studies in I became acutely aware of the (often unsustainable) way that society has come to interact with the environment, particularly the marine environment which changed things for me. After graduating I studied an MSc in Marine Systems and Policies at the University of Edinburgh. It was there, at a beach clean in Cramond, just outside of Edinburgh, that I first came in to contact with MCS and discovered my interest in marine litter!

A bit about the role

The role was full of variety. From talking with visitors about MCS and current campaigns to teaching the public about the wading birds and seals that were sunning themselves on the sand banks, every day was different. I also joined the Glenmorangie Academy on their wildlife watching trips around the nearby Cromarty Firth to explain to new staff members about the partnership and how it fits in with the marine conservation issues MCS is working on.

There’s been lots of community outreach too. Following in the footsteps of previous post holders Jonathon and Harriet, I’ve run education workshops at 10 local schools and hosted MCS information stands at several events including the Tain Highland Games, Inverness Ocean Film Festival and Balintore Fisherfolk Festival. Most recently, I ran 14 beach cleans around the Dornoch Firth as part of the MCS Great British Beach Clean, with three schools taking part.

What's next for me?

Living up here has turned my perspective on its head (originally hailing from the Midlands, I have developed a new understanding of what ‘The North’ really means). While it’s been a challenge at times (mainly to find reliable signal & wifi), it has been a great opportunity to explore some of the incredible land & seascapes that Scotland has and I've fallen in love with this beautiful part of the world and so have decided to stay up here.

Now that the summer has come to an end and I’ve finished up at the distillery, I’ve moved down to Edinburgh to start with Scottish Environment LINK as their Marine Policy and Engagement Officer which I’m very excited about. And, of course I’ve been getting back to those beach cleans at Cramond!