Natural Connections – From a student's point of view
My name is Emma Louise McGurk and I am from St. Maurice’s High school in Cumbernauld. I have been involved with Natural Connections since September 2015, we were introduced to Tracy and Liz early on in September and they gave us an idea of what the project was about and what we were going to be doing with them. The following fortnight we took a site visit and we did a risk assessment on the area, this helped us get to know our site better and sum up what we needed to improve in the area of St. Maurice’s Pond. From then on every fortnight we would set out to try and improve our site we carried out activities like litter picking and weed whacking, from the litter picking we managed to get 5 whole bags full with litter and since then the area has very little litter there (we hope for it to stay that way).
From this experience I have gained a lot of skills, some conservation skills and general teamwork and communication skills. Before I started working with Cumbernauld Living Landscape I had no idea that there was such a wide range of things that you could do to help the environment and protect the wildlife. I also didn’t know what I wanted to do for a career when I leave school. Natural Connections has helped me realise that I love working outdoors and helping to protect and improve the environment, through Natural Connections I gained a 3 day work experience placement (2 full days and 1 half day) this also helped me realise that for a career I want to do a course on Countryside Management, I feel that even when I go to college and if I don’t enjoy the course as much as I thought I would (very unlikely) that Natural Connections and the Cumbernauld Living Landscape have set me up with skills for further employability and life in general.
I would hope that the Natural Connections project will continue to other schools in the future as it gives teenagers from different backgrounds to see what they actually enjoy doing and it can also help them for the future in jobs in conservation.
I also think it give teenagers a chance to see nature at its finest without looking at a phone 24/7, it gets us out and about and doing things we wound never get the chance to do otherwise. I would consider myself to be much more outdoorsy than I ever was and find myself taking pictures of wildlife that I see day to day, it has taken an impact on my life for the better and I can’t thank Natural Connections and Cumbernauld Living Landscape enough for doing so.