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I do like to be beside the seaside

A blog post by Emma Glencross

2022 is the Scottish Year of Stories. So, this is the story of how I came to be at Keep Scotland Beautiful.

It involves travel around the world and through different fields of employment…and, for the moment, rests nicely with me being the 2022 Campaigns Officer for My Beach Your Beach.

I took quite a circuitous route to this role at Keep Scotland Beautiful but I have had environmental education in my mind for a long time. 

At school in Australia, I always wanted to be a marine biologist …back then my goal was to work with dolphins at Seaworld!  I completed a Bachelor of Science in zoology and botany before environmental science degrees were really a thing.  I did all the marine related subjects I could, including some fantastic field trips on the Great Barrier Reef.  I even met a fellow student who already worked at Seaworld … although I was less impressed when I found out his main role was to dress as a dolphin to sell sweets!

Research for my Honours thesis involved working with the CSIRO on a project highlighting the importance of seagrass beds as nursery habitats for small fish and crustaceans.  This was followed by some very smelly taxonomy work identifying species caught as by-catch in prawn trawling.  While I loved getting stuck into the physical work, policy caught my eye.  I moved across the country to Western Australia where I spent 10 years with the Environmental Protection Authority undertaking environmental impact assessment of development proposals that frequently were located in or impacted on the marine environment. 

When I started my family, I took time out from environmental science.  As my boys started school, my thoughts focused again on education.  I trained as a Support for Learning Assistant and worked at that while starting a Master of Teaching and Learning.  However, the travel bug intervened and we moved to Scotland before I completed my teaching training.  I stayed with education in the challenging and rewarding role of a Support for Learning Assistant in the Autism Provision of a local high school.

In my 5th year there, after supporting an incredible student through their Advanced Higher Biology and Physics, I decided it was time for me to get back into science.  As I packed up my locker from school on my last day, I found my first personal development report where I highlighted where I wanted my career to go…and there it was, environmental education.  Amazing to find that piece of paper as I was about to move to Scotland’s environmental charity - an organisation where environmental education is integral to the focus of combatting climate change, reducing litter and waste, and protecting and enhancing the places we care for.

Emma at Machrihanish Beach in the sunshine
Machrihanish Beach, Argyll and Bute

Being part of #TeamKSBScot has been a great learning experience.  I loved working with an amazing team on the COP26 Youth Climate Programme to provide Climate Emergency Training to young people and youth workers throughout Scotland.  It was exciting to empower both young people and youth workers to understand the issues around climate change and identify actions that they can take personally and in their work environments to tackle the climate emergency – whether those actions be personal behaviour changes or putting pressure on decision makers across the country.

It was only while at Keep Scotland Beautiful that I delved into the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  These 17 goals relate to a wide range of interlinking issues that form the platform of a sustainable future for us all.  The Scottish Government has agreed to deliver on these SDGs by 2030.  These goals really nicely highlight the importance of a range of issues being addressed across all sectors to be able to work towards a sustainable future.  Given my history, I am drawn to two of the SGDs above the others.  Goal 4, Quality Education, is about ensuring inclusive and fair quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for everyone.  Goal 14, Life Below Water, is about how we can conserve and be sustainable in the way we use the oceans, seas and marine resources.

These two SDGs are integral to the messages in my current role as the Campaigns Officer for the My Beach Your Beach campaign.  The  campaign encourages behaviour change to promote beach stewardship and protect the sand and sea of our beaches.  Our calls to action focus on things everyone can do at the beach and also at home to support the improvement of our water quality.

One of the things I have learnt in my time at Keep Scotland Beautiful is that there is soooo much going on … so many talented and enthusiastic people doing so much work for the environment.  It never ceases to amaze me just how much is going on! 

Have a look around our website and you are guaranteed to find something to interest you!

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