Meet our volunteers


We couldn't do it without you! We'd like to say a huge thank you to all our volunteers, some of who have given their time regularly for years, others who've just come out for a day.  We value and appreciate all your support. 

Here are just a few of those that are supporting the Scottish Invasive Species Initiative, a mixed bunch from all walks of life and mostly with little previous experience! So if you like the idea of joining Calum, Amelia, Mirella, Ali, Adam & Ross then read more about our volunteering opportunities.



Student placement

Elise found out about volunteering through her university (UHI) and decided to do her 4th year placement with the SISI project. She started with the project in July working 3 days a week with one of the SISI project officers and continued right through to October. She has helped with cutting giant hogweed flowers, pulling Himalayan balsam and stem injecting Japanese knotweed.

She said "I've really enjoyed it, it's been a great way to spend my summer, I've met lots of new people and had a great banter and also developed my skills for future careers. Before I felt like a sham, studying Environmental Science but I didn't have any experience or stories to tell, but now I do have stories and experiences. It's been really helpful for me doing this work, now I have practical experience. I'm going to do more volunteering."



Calum looks after the Meikleour Fishings on the River Tay. He's been a dedicated mink volunteer for years, monitoring his patch and successfully catching several mink. 

Calum said "Mink have a devastating impact on our local wildlife - I've witnessed it with my own eyes; I once watched a mink raiding a kingfisher nest, it came back again and again, until it had taken every chick out of that nest, it was total devastation."

Angus Canoe Club

Film stars

Three fantastic volunteers from the Angus Canoe club volunteered their services to help SISI make a film about biosecurity.  They were set off to paddle down the river bedecked with helmet cams and kayak mounted 360o cameras to capture the essence of enjoying the river - something not everyone gets to experience from that angle - and then showed us all the biosecurity practices they do on pulling out of the river to clean out their kayaks and wash down their gear, so they don't run the risk of moving invasive species from one river to another. 

Tom said "We were happy to lend a hand when we were asked if we could feature in the SISI film, cleaning your gear after coming out of the river is really important and something we were happy to help promote."



Mink raft volunteer

Amelia is probably our youngest volunteer!

When she read about the mink project in her local paper she really wanted to get involved and help save her local wildlife.  She (under the supervision of her Mum) adopted a mink raft which is on a river within walking distance of her house.  She has also helped SISI staff to make a film about invasive species.

Amelia said "When I heard that mink were harming our wildlife, I wanted to do something to help. I've had mink footprints on my raft and so I've got a trap on it at the moment but we haven't caught anything yet.  They came from America and don't belong here in Scotland, so it's important we do something about it."


Super sprayer

Mirella is from Hungary and came to Scotland for an EVS (European Voluntary Service) placement and fell in love with Scotland and stayed. She has been assisting project officer James to clear  dead Japanese knotweed stems, plant trees and spray Giant hogweed. 

She said "It's really important for me to be outdoors, do some useful work and learn new things. I get all this while I am volunteering with SISI.

Controlling invasives sometimes feels like an endless job, but it's good to see the treated areas from last year - there's a big difference compared to the areas which haven't been treated before."


Mink raft volunteer

Ali works as a carer for the eldery and wanted to volunteer with an activity to help the environment. She saw an article about SISI in the newspaper and the rest is history!  Ali monitors two sets of mink monitoring rafts in the Carse of Gowrie and has learnt lots about the birds and wildlife in the area from staff and other volunteers. 

She said; "Feeling that I am participating in a very worthwhile initiative, contributing to conservation efforts in my local environment with the opportunity is really important to me. I've also got some great memories from my volunteering already; I took my visiting family down to the mink rafts to show them how the operation worked, I tried to keep a straight face when my sister slipped and ended up waist deep in the freezing cold water of the reed-bed, at the same time grabbing onto my mum, who then fell on top of her! No injuries were incurred but much embarrassment and some very smelly clothes ..."



Scott has just completed a course in Environmental Science, at the University of Highlands & Islands, and during this time he’s also been out and about volunteering with the Findhorn, Nairn & Lossie Fisheries Trust. He’s helped with a range of tasks; surveying the rivers for invasive species, spraying Giant hogweed and Japanese knotweed and also helping with fisheries work including electro fishing. He's also been able to gain his pesticide spraying qualifiactions while volunteering with the SISI project.

Scott says “I’ve been able to get some really good work experience and loads of practical experience over the last 2 years, I really want to get a job in the outdoors, so helping out has been great for me. It’s also nice to give something back.”


Dedicated Deveron devotee

For nearly 10 years Kevin has volunteered with the Deveron, Bogie & Isla Charitable Trust, spraying invasive species along the banks of the Deveron and Isla Rivers. He explained what motivates him;

"For over 30 years the River Deveron had been kind to me and for me to get a chance to be a volunteer was just my way of saying 'thank you' to the river. It has given me so much satisfaction and I wanted to give something back. It's good to see the river, it gets you out of the house and takes you to places you probably haven't been to before. 

I just love it. I get satisfaction at the end - sure, not a lot of people want to go around with a knapsack sprayer on their backs for 4 or 5 miles, but for me if doesn't make any difference. Yeah, it's tiring, but at the end of the day, once you've done it, it's good fun and it's rewarding. I have a sense of pride for doing that."


Local angler

Adam heard about the project via a social media podcast and thought it would be a good thing to be involved in. He soon got stuck straight in with spraying Giant hogweed along the River Spey under the supervision of project officer James. 

Adam said "I enjoy angling and field sports so I take an active interest in the outdoors, and I wanted to help make a difference in my local environment.  I'm really looking forward to getting more invovled in this project over the coming years."


One of our first volunteers!

Ross, currently working in the social care sector, has been volunteering with SISI in Angus since the project kicked off assisting with surveying and herbicide control of INNS. He has also successfully gained his pesticide application qualifications.

Ross shared his experiences and how being involved in the project has benefited him:

"I was suffering from depression and wanted something that would put me back in touch with nature. This project helped me to raise my self esteem and took me to some of the most beautiful hidden surroundings that Scotland has to offer. I'm enjoying making new friends, exploring new places and with the useful skills and qualifications that I gained I now plan to go into this sector as a career."