By Nicola Morris, Invasive Species Officer

Much of my role as Invasive Species Officer at South West Lakes Trust involves engaging with visitors to our lakes, volunteers, colleagues and fellow scientists, and finding ways to help control the spread and minimise the impacts of invasive species. 

I was very pleased when a former colleague from my previous role at The Cornwall College Group, Dr Mark Nason (now Senior Lecturer in Horticulture at Eden Project Learning), got in touch a few months ago:

“Nicola, is there any potential for one of my very lovely and very strong postgrad students to spend time working with you?” Knowing how passionate conservation students are about helping with environmental projects, I was delighted to meet with Breanna Kaufman. Breanna graduated from the University of Oregon with a double major in Environmental Science and Anthropology and is now studying the MSc Land and Ecological Restoration at Eden. Breanna sounded like the perfect choice for a volunteer placement on our invasive species project, a partnership project with South West Water.

Right from the start, Breanna has been great to work with, joining me on site visits, analysing data from our recent invasive species and biosecurity workshops and helping write reports to feed back to my colleagues at South West Lakes Trust, South West Water and further afield. These work placements help students by creating industry links and providing valuable work experience. But they also help us as placement providers, giving us the opportunity to work alongside keen and knowledgeable students, many of whom go on to become colleagues working in the environmental sector.

Breanna said, “Working with South West Lakes Trust, I have been able to combine two of my greatest passions: environmental health and human responsibility. Invasive species remain one of the largest threats to biodiversity which leads to a myriad of ecological consequences. The only way to remedy this issue is through behavioural change, which I have fortunately been able to start analysing with SWLT. With the research I have done so far, I have gained new hope that we will be able to make significant progress on altering human activity to better fit the needs of the environment in accompaniment to our own recreation. Additionally, this opportunity has allowed me to meet people from a variety of different roles at the Trust and see the range of lakes under care which has broadened my vision of anthropocentric and ecological capacities, all the while allowing me to get outside amongst doing theoretical research!”