Friday 8th March marks #InternationalWomensDay, and we’re celebrating the women in our team.

You may not be aware, but the RSPB was founded by women. In 1889, Emily Williamson created the organisation with one core aim – to fight a fashion for feathers that were driving birds including little egrets, and birds of paradise towards extinction. The all-women movement was born out of frustration that the male-only British Ornithologists Union was not acting on the issue. The society would go on to become the RSPB and spark a global force to save nature with more than a million members.

Conservation has always been central to the RSPB but has not always been recognised as a popular or inviting area of work for women.

We couldn’t agree less!

In this blog post we wanted to introduce you to some of the brilliant women who are part of our fantastic team of staff who, on a daily basis, work hard to protect and conserve the incredible nature and environment of Shetland, and engage the community in the importance of connecting with nature for their mental and physical wellbeing.


 Name: Beth Aucott

Role: Warden

Further info: Beth studied MSci Zoology before embarking on a career in practical conservation. She’s worked across a wide range of habitats, driving tractors, using chainsaws, putting up fencing, leading guided walks and counting butterflies, to name just a few things reserve work involves. As Shetland Warden she looks after the 15 sites RSPB manage in Shetland, managing the habitats, surveying species and the report writing and office work that goes alongside the practical work.

 Name: Holly Paget-Brown

Role: Biosecurity for Scotland Officer

Further info: Holly has a degree in Zoology and a masters in Conservation Science and has worked in the biosecurity field since she started her career. In her role she is working with organisations and communities to protect Scotland’s seabird islands from the threat of invasive non-native mammalian predators. Outside of work Holly is a keen wildlife photographer and orca enthusiast.

 Name: Lizzy Grieve

Role: Assistant Warden

Further info: Lizzy has a BSc in Outdoor Adventure and Environment where she spent more time in the mountains than the library! She has been in her current role for the last year, prior to this she has held a variety of jobs within the conservation sector, including farm advisor, practical conservation roles, surveyor for an ecological consultancy and working on an upland hill farm at the weekends.

 Name: Helen Moncrieff

RSPB Role: Shetland Islands Manager

Further info: Helen worked a variety of jobs including as a barmaid, shop assistant and fish factory processor, before doing a BSc(Hons) Conservation Management as a mature student. She returned to Shetland in 2001 to work as the RSPB’s Mousa warden, then worked for Shetland Crofting and Farming Wildlife Advisory Group as a Local Biodiversity Action Plan Officer before returning to RSPB Shetland as a Warden and Education Officer. Now the local manager, Helen’s job is mostly desk-based and covers a breadth of topics from policy and advocacy, funding and communications, partnership and projects, and supporting the local and wider teams.  


 Name: Laura Farrell

RSPB Role: Community Engagement Officer

Further info: Laura studied for a degree in Environmental Geoscience before commencing a career in science communication in the media industry. Her role within RSPB Shetland involves writing resources and championing the RSPB Nature Prescription in the health and charity sectors, developing relationships with key stakeholders, and helping to design and coordinate events. In her spare time Laura enjoys painting and wild beach walks.

 Name: Nathalie Pion

Role: Conservation Advisor

Further info: Nathalie was studying agronomy and rural development in France when she first came to Shetland to do research for her degree project. Her career so far has largely focused on advising farmers and crofters on managing land for wildlife and helping them get into agri-environment schemes. She is also currently leading the delivery of the Species on the Edge project in Shetland.

As you can see, our roles are all quite different. Our work is varied and exciting, can be challenging, and often eventful. But fundamentally it is a safe, supportive and fantastic place to work and thrive as a woman.

We would very much like to meet more of you over the weeks and months ahead. We will be offering volunteering opportunities in wall-building and fencing. Please continue to follow us on the facebook page https://www.facebook.com/RSPBShetland/ for all the latest events information, or check out RSPB volunteering opportunities here: https://volunteer.rspb.org.uk.