Hello from the new Project Officer, Gemma Jennings

My name is Gemma Jennings and I’m the new Project Officer at the East Ayrshire Coalfield Environment Initiative. This is my first week on the job; I was lucky enough to spend my first day out in the field at RSPB Airds Moss where I joined the CEI Project Officer, CEI volunteers and RSPB staff to undertake a Large Heath butterfly survey. It was a great chance to meet people, acquaint myself with one of the CEI’s peatland restoration sites and get some on-the-job training, but I’ll post more about the survey later!

First off a little bit about myself… I’m an ecologist who loves being outdoors and I’m interested in biodiversity and how people connect with the environment. I’m from County Durham originally and moved to Glasgow in 2008 to undertake a PhD that looked at the ecology of an urban colony of common terns in Leith Docks (the site is a Special Protection Area and is the largest colony for the species in Scotland). After completing my PhD, I kept up with the birds as an ecologist at MacArthur Green, picking up skills in protected species surveys along the way. The experience of working in Leith Docks had sparked an interest in public engagement, and in 2013 I was able to combine my interests in ecology and engagement when I joined the Clyde River Foundation as their Community Engagement Officer. This role involved undertaking fishery monitoring throughout the River Clyde catchment whilst promoting stewardship of this “recovering” river through an exciting programme of education and community engagement initiatives.

I’m now very excited to embark on my new role as CEI Project Officer! Without sounding too cheesy, I have admired the work of the CEI for some time and I can’t wait to get stuck in. While I have lots of monitoring and education/outreach experience, the peatland restoration side of things is new to me, so I’m looking forward to learning lots and putting my skills to the test. I’ll be responsible for organising upcoming volunteer sessions, public events and education sessions in the East Ayrshire Coalfield area, so if you’re involved in the CEI you can expect to hear a lot more from me soon! Otherwise, feel free to contact me on gemma.jennings@ea-cei.org.uk if you’d like to get involved or find out more.