Celebrating the Volunteering Achievement Award Winners 2024

The Volunteer Achievement Awards, now in its second consecutive year, aim to shine a spotlight on the remarkable contributions made by volunteers, recognising their dedication and impact on the CIEEM community. This year, we were delighted to build on the success of last year’s volunteer awards by recognising more fantastic volunteers from the CIEEM community. We want to take this opportunity to thank all our volunteers who contribute so much to CIEEM and the wider sector.

Following shortlisting by three judges, including members of the Governing Board and Secretariat, we are delighted to announce the winners of the 2024 Volunteer Achievement Awards. Please read below to find out more about each of our winners…

John Box CEcol CEnv FCIEEM (rtd)

John was nominated for the impactful contributions he continues to make for the benefit of the profession and CIEEM since stepping down as CIEEM President in 2015.

John brings his wisdom, expert knowledge and passion to a number of roles including: Chairing the Action 2030 Working Group and Good Practice Guidance for Ecological Restoration Working Group, sitting on the Ecological Restoration and Habitat Creation SIG Committee, being a member of the Competency Framework Review Working Group, leading a Working Group looking at the development of an accreditation scheme for lead Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA) authors and reviewers, and chairing several Professional Conduct hearings since 2018.

About his involvement with CIEEM John said:

“Volunteering for CIEEM is great fun and professionally challenging. You get to meet members of the office team and they need your knowledge, skills and experience. Volunteer roles look really good on your CV. CIEEM has declared a climate emergency and biodiversity crisis. Bring this into whatever volunteering activity you decide to do. You will not regret it.”

Ashleigh Kitchiner MCIEEM

Ashleigh was nominated for her ever-valuable contributions to and involvement with Member Networks, and STEM Ambassadors. In particular her work to inspire new ambassadors, always highlighting the growing need for environmental professionals to get involved to showcase their work and roles to inspire the next generation. Ashleigh approaches all her voluntary positions with endless enthusiasm and ideas.

When reflecting on her volunteering Ashleigh shared:

I first got involved with CIEEM in 2021 and it was because they were holding ‘Early Career Exploitation’ workshops. At the time I was early in my career and I was excited to see a body that was raising issues relevant to me and not shying away from these issues or going along with the status quo. That is what I have enjoyed throughout my time at CIEEM, they are not afraid to discuss important issues and advocate for change. To date I have been involved in various events and activities where I have learned new skills and widened my network, I now know who to call if I have a forestry issue or need dolphin information from Hawaii! It is these networks that make getting involved with membership bodies, particularly CIEEM, powerful. You can speak with like-minded people who impart knowledge and may challenge your way of thinking too. Volunteering is well worthwhile!”

Nick Marchant MCIEEM

Nick was nominated for his proactive, engaged, and reliable approach to volunteering with the Irish Policy Group since its fruition.

Nick has been involved in the Irish policy group since early 2018 and has always been very active through being forthcoming on requests for input on consultations, as well as being proactive and suggesting areas for the Policy Group to focus on. By the end of 2019 Nick was nominated for the role of Chair. As Chair, Nick has been effective in moving actions along and achieving the aims of the group: he has been instrumental in identifying consultations to respond to, drafting responses for the group to comment on and following up directly with the group when needed.

Nick was also instrumental in producing key briefing documents to support CIEEM members during Covid, and more recently as part of a ‘Biodiversity in Planning’ subgroup which he helped establish.

Claire Smith CEcol CEnv MCIEEM

Claire was nominated for her invaluable and significant contributions to the Membership Admissions Committee and as a Membership Assessor over the past decade.

Claire continues to play an active role as a diligent and reliable assessor of applications for membership, having reviewed applications from literally hundreds of current and potential CIEEM members and carrying out interviews for dozens of potential CEcol and CEnv Registrants. Importantly, Claire is always willing to mentor new assessors and interviewers.

Claire began volunteering to give back to the CIEEM family, wanting to contribute, and be part of upholding and maintaining CIEEM’s professional standards which she says has provided her with a valuable insight into CIEEM. As a result of her involvement, Claire has valued meeting new people – including new members, but also other assessors increasing her professional network, and has gained a feeling of pride in both completing assessments/interviews and when talking to others within the industry.

Juli Titherington MCIEEM

Juli was nominated for the long-standing and strategic support she has given to the Scotland Member Network Committee. In her own words…

“I joined the Scotland committee many years ago now.  Earlier in my career I felt frustrated at the lack of representation for all that Scotland’s ecologists do, the challenges we face with weather, lack of funding, research and associated guidance that was relevant to habitats north of the border.  I was beginning to make noise about it, and I decided to put my money where my mouth is and joined the committee to try and be a part of finding solutions.  I also wanted to reach out to those professionals not within CIEEM’s network, to find out why, and make sure we offered events and fora that they could feel included within.  Becoming Vice-Convenor was only natural to both demonstrate my commitment, but also encourage others north of the border to find their voice.  I love how Scotland’s committee is dedicated and enthusiastic about bringing as many events as we could fit into the calendar (supported by our always excellent project officer), and I wanted to make sure they were relevant, wide-reaching, and meaningful.  As my own career has meandered between the public and private sector, I found the connectivity of the committee’s work, the warmth of my committee ‘colleagues’, and the links with wider ecology sector offers me consistency, a reassurance of quality, and stability.  The CIEEM Scotland Committee holds an important place in my life and I want it to offer the same haven to the next generation of ecologists and environmental managers, as well as hope to those, like me, who have been around the munro a few times…”

Eirene Williams CEnv FCIEEM (rtd)

As one of CIEEM’s longest standing volunteers, and a Founding Member, Eirene has been heavily involved in various voluntary capacities from the infancy of IEEM and throughout the years of growth since. Eirene was nominated for her dedicated and invaluable service particularly to the Shadow Registration Authority, and the Membership Admissions Committee (MAC) over more than a decade. Reflecting on her experiences volunteering with CIEEM, Eirene writes:

“I would say that I joined as a founder member in 1991 not so much for my own benefit as for that of my undergraduate students who were aiming for careers in countryside management. The IEEM initiative seemed to gear the EEM practitioners up for professional recognition and so it has. Almost immediately I was co-opted onto the fledgling PAC [Professional Affairs Committee] and then ascended to its Chair and to the Council.  After I left the university in 2005 I also had time to be Vice President and sit on F&GP [Finance & General Purposes Committee]. Having exhausted the allocated times on all these I was put onto MAC and still assess innumerable batches of applications! I also assess university courses for CIEEM Accreditation. I remember all too well the initial work on that and on the Code of Conduct, the Disciplinary Procedure, the Skills Gap Project, the Competency Framework, the pioneering use of Zoom, and maybe above all the work with SocEnv. On behalf of CIEEM I was involved in the early stages of SocEnv, and helped draft and edit the early Practice Directions whilst on their Registration Authority. I have audited other SocEnv Licensed Bodies on their CEnv procedures, and wrote the initial procedure for our own CEnv assessment and interviews and have conducted several hundred of these. All the while as a volunteer…”