Founder of Conservation Volunteers Galway in 2012, Caitríona Cunningham has been for many years a Green-Schools travel officer in county Galway with An Taisce’s Environmental Education Unit. Over 1900 primary and secondary schools countrywide have taken part or are taking part in the Green-Schools Travel theme, implementing sustainable travel action plans in their schools. Caitríona is a qualified national school teacher, with a BSc (Hons) in Environmental studies & a MSc in Research Ecology focusing on pollinators. As a Green-Schools travel officer Caitríona encourages students to use sustainable travel such as walking or cycling on their way to school. Caitríona motivates students and teachers to use sustainable travel by carrying out a range of tasks including supervising walking and cycling audits where students investigate if the roads to their school are safe to walk and cycle, and the need for infrastructural changes which are then reported to Galway County Council; organising travel action days (e.g. Walk on Wednesdays and Cycle on Wednesdays ); liaising with Galway County and Galway City Council Road department, the Road Safety Authority and Gardaí on implementing road safety infrastructural measures around schools; working on sustainable travel initiatives e.g. ‘Schools Streets’ with Scoil Iognáid and the ‘School Zone’ project with Scoil Iosaif Naofa, Oranmore.
Caitríona has a keen interest in biodiversity and its preservation through community conservation action. Last year Caitríona assisted Claregalway Tidy Towns by helping in implementing a series of flora and fauna projects. As part of the Pollinator and Flower project Caitríona delivered pollinator workshops in the local schools, held a bee art competition for young people with their work displayed in the local supermarket, and participated in the National Biodiversity Centre’s bumblebee and butterfly monitoring schemes. She was instrumental in securing funding from the Community Environment Action Fund for the “Clare River Sculpture Project” and delivered interactive water pollution and river ecosystem workshops.
Caitríona strongly believes that is important to provide opportunities for people especially children to interact with nature so that they can learn to love nature. By doing this there is a greater chance that people will want to protect nature.