I was fortunate enough to grow up in a National Park, nestled in the Rocky Mountains of Canada. I spent most of my childhood in the forest, building forts, wading across streams, climbing trees, and skirting elk and bison poo. I value my childhood and appreciate how fortunate I am to have grown up in an environment that invites such strong connections with nature. 

 

When I moved more than 5000km away to attend university in Halifax, I realised how important the forest and mountains were to me. I was just a small-town girl taking the midnight train to my first city life experience. I was enjoying my courses (I took economics and sustainability), my new friends, and all of the shenanigans that one would expect an 18-year-old to get up to. After a few months, however, I was beginning to feel unsettled. Initially, I was unsure why I was experiencing these feelings, but then I returned home for Christmas break. I realised that I had missed the ease at which I could access nature, and had taken my childhood for granted. Although I was still skirting poo, albeit dog poo, I was missing those other connections with nature that were more difficult to access in the city. Thus my aspirations for a career in conservation were born. The rest of my university career I focused on ensuring that nature was available to city folk as well. I created a website of bus accessible hikes in and around the city that I lived in and realised that it is more than possible to connect with nature in the city, even without a vehicle.

 

I moved to Scotland in August 2019. I spent a large portion of my time that year exploring the country and seeing what it has to offer (which is a lot). Coming from Canada, I had understood that Scotland was naturally without many trees and was comprised of mostly rolling green hills. Much to my embarrassment, I was more in the wrong than the 12 publishers who initially rejected J.K Rowling's, Harry Potter. Through my months of exploring the country, I discovered the lengths that many landowners are going to "rewild" Scotland back to its natural forested hills. I was enormously inspired by these efforts, and am now fortunate enough to be working in the last 1% remaining Caledonian pine forest in Scotland.

 

I have an unbelievable amount to learn- more than my Japanese dad who, much to our delight, is now able to differentiate between the words "ankle" and "uncle". There are many species that I hadn't seen, nor heard of, and so many of these learning opportunities can be done within my living room!

My colleague-Bethia-who is also my flatmate, has her work cut out for her. She addresses my thousands of questions posited to her daily regarding bird species, their habits and songs.

 I'm looking forward to sharing more of our journey throughout the next months. In the meantime, stay positive, test negative.

Anonymous