John Muir Trust gives Blaine trip of a lifetime

SCHOOLBOY Blaine ­Ferguson is set to have the summer of a lifetime after being selected to join a ­scientific expedition into the unknown.

Tuesday, 23rd April 2019, 6:00 am
Blaine Ferguson is going on a once-in-a-lifetime research expedition in the jungle of the Calakmul Reserve.

While many of his classmates and friends will be heading for European beach holidays, or slightly further afield, Blaine, a 15-year-old student from Lasswade High School, Midlothian, is jetting off to Mexico.

The trip of a lifetime is thanks to a grant set up by the John Muir Trust in memory of two inspirational mountaineers, who died ten years apart in the Alps.

Blaine, who is studying for his Nat 5 exams, has received support from the Des Rubens and Bill Wallace Grant to go on an amazing research expedition in the jungle of the Calakmul Reserve from June 24 to July 7.

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Once there, will be learning about how to gather data in the field, ­completing surveys on trees, birds, large mammals and herpetofauna (reptiles and amphibians). Whilst away he will also complete a reef and forest ecology course to learn how best these vital habitats can be ­protected and conserved.

On his return Blaine plans to use his experiences to inspire other young people to become conservation ­volunteers and be more active in the future fate of our planet.

Blaine hopes this experience will stand him in good stead to fulfil his ambition to become the first member of his family to go to university.

The excited teenager said: “I’m delighted and grateful to be a recipient of the Des Rubens-Bill Wallace Grant towards my expedition to Mexico.

“I feel this will be one of the best experiences in my life. The complete immersion in nature conservation will allow me to experience first-hand something I could never achieve in a classroom.”

Rosie Simpson of the John Muir Trust, who administers the Des Rubens and Bill Wallace Grant, said: “We’ve been delighted with the number and quality of applications this year, Blaine did well in what is a competitive application process – we wish him all the best with this adventure and his future studies.

“Des and Bill lived active, adventurous, outdoor lives and would be delighted to know that their lives have opened the door to a new generation of conservation-explorers to follow their dreams.”

Blaine is one of six successful applicants to the Des Rubens and Bill Wallace Grant this year. It was established to help people gain life-changing experiences in wild places that have scientific or educational value.

Rubens, a teacher at Craigroyston High School, was killed in 2016 while climbing in the Alps.

Bill Wallace, also from Edinburgh, was a former treasurer of the John Muir Trust. He died in 2006 aged 73 while ski-ing.