Toby Clark
Manager with the John Muir Trust

One of my most vivid science memories from school is being one of 30 pupils trooped outside into the school grounds armed only with a metre stick. We were asked to walk in a straight line to simulate a beam of light travelling from air to water. As a group we demonstrated refraction – it was in front of me, and I was part of it. I felt it and it stuck with me.

Later, I became more interested in our natural world – such as how a diving kingfisher or gannet adjusts to compensate for refraction whilst hunting for fish. For me, the joy of science is the hands-on aspect that if offers – it is all around us and helps fuel our imagination. The natural world offers endless stimulation and questions – from staring at the stars to growing flowers in a window box.

Unfortunately, the majority of science I experienced in school was more classroom based than perhaps suited my learning style. However, I did enjoy Geography, as well as English and Art – and of course playing endless games of football.

As a young adult I tried to keep my education opportunities as broad as possible as I did not have a clear sense of what I wanted to do.

Eventually, I was given the confidence and encouragement to follow my interests. I volunteered with the Scottish Wildlife Trust, I completed a practical National Vocational Qualification in land use and conservation, I gained experience at an Ecology Centre supporting young people experience and learn about the outdoors.

Now, I’m fortunate enough to enjoy a job that encourages people to have fun and connect with our natural environment – this increases people’s interest in caring for and protecting wildlife and wild places.

My interest in science has given me the opportunity to make a positive difference to people as well as places. More importantly, it has inspired a life-long passion for nature and wildlife too.