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.


Alan Marsden

Dedicated Dee and Don volunteer

Alan is one of our most prolific plant control volunteers on the River Dee and the River Don, having logged over 200 volunteer hours in the last 4 years. Alan is involved in all aspects of invasive plant control and oversees other volunteers working alongside us.

“I've lived most of my life near rivers of varied quality but now in retirement I can put some effort into restoration. Spraying or pulling invasive species takes me to remoter parts of beautiful rivers I wouldn’t normally go to, and always in good weather. Everything and everyone benefits from control of invasive species, and I get fresh air, exercise, the occasional biscuit, and to appear on the same webpage as Marigold."



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."


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 ..."


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."


Hogweed muncher

Marigold is a key volunteer over on the River Deveron catchment, where she spends her days enthusiastically munching her way through a serious Giant hogweed infestation. Unlike her human handlers she isn't bothered by the toxic sap of the plant and finds it's fresh new leaves quite tasty. She's also keen to help the promotion of the project and she has starred in several newspapers and on television!

Marigold said "Baa mheee ba, munch munch, yum, ba ba baaaa"

Aberdeen University

Conservation Society

The University of Aberdeen Conservation Society joined project officer, Karen, for what they describe as the "first of many volunteering days". 

They said "We had an amazing time.  We removed Himalayan balsam from the Water of Cruden, learnt ahout setting up a mink raft and then viewed sea birds at Bullers of Buchan.  We will be returning soon!"


Production Manager, Chivas Brothers

Gordon brought a team of 12 staff from distillery company Chivas Brothers out to work with SISI project officer Al, on the River Deveron.

“We've had a fantastic day removing an invasive species, Himalayan balsam, from the banks of the river Deveron. It's really rewarding to make a contribution to an important environmental project, and we look forward to a continued partnership in the future.”