My experience working at the National Biodiversity Data Centre

Intern Miriam Harvey Graham discusses her passion for nature and her time with the National Biodiversity Data Centre


‘If you look the right way, you can see the whole world is a garden… as long as you have a garden, you have a future and as long as you have a future you are alive’

The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett


Growing up in the countryside, surrounded by nature and having a garden with space for so many creatures and plants, I was in constant awe of how nature worked and what it could achieve. During my time working at the National Biodiversity Data Centre, I was exploring and becoming more knowledgeable on all the things which captured my imagination from an early age – from the earthworms I hurried to save from the path of my parents’ respective spades in the vegetable or flower garden – to identifying the many wild birds who visited our oasis, using my precious little collection of bird books.

Having spent time working and learning and generally being inspired by the fantastic staff members in the National Biodiversity Data Centre I no longer see what most would describe as an overgrown or unkempt piece of land or roadside verge. Instead, I see beauty and the endless potential for life and further growth in this ecologically respected and protected space. For this joyful awareness and insight to nature and biodiversity, the interdependence of all living things, I shall be forever grateful, and feel very humbled to be part of something so vital and positive.

I have always felt wild areas were pretty and should be encouraged, without examining the detail, but it was only through experiencing the tireless work being done here at the Data Centre to encourage biodiversity for our pollinators, which are essential to our future existence that I saw the implications and possibilities for all life forms in these natural spaces. Being with the team of experts and working on their projects, together with their drive and commitment has reawakened the curiosity from my childhood and my undying love and respect for all aspects of the natural world.

The daily attention to detail to the monitoring of every minute aspect of our flora and fauna, terrestrial and marine, is inspiring, and everyone here in the Data Centre is so driven and committed to working towards a world which monitors, educates, assists and informs policy change to protect our vulnerable planet and through their different plans, workshops, data collection projects and conferences, they reach out to the entire nation to bring one and all on board in an interactive and mutually informative way, whilst working together for the greater good of our planet and its inhabitants.

My personal experience of being here has been amazing. I have grown so much and learned so much. ‘Work’ is sometimes depicted as a ‘burden’ and a weight on our shoulders, but I can proudly say there hasn’t been a morning when I haven’t gotten out of bed with eagerness and without hesitation and walked in to work with a smile on my face, happy to be here on a positive mission with a great bunch of people. Our chats at lunch and tea break were usually interrupted by a sighting or two from the window – perhaps some beautiful Jays hopping about beneath the trees or even a dragonfly speeding by during a hunt, and always pollinators enjoying the beautiful natural meadow which the team themselves created around the centre. So much work and care is shown – above and beyond the call of duty – because it comes from people who are passionate about all aspects biodiversity in a very real and active way.

So much work and care is shown – above and beyond the call of duty – because it comes from people who are passionate about all aspects biodiversity in a very real and active way.

The kindness and welcome shown to me in my time working here has been second to none and such generosity in sharing the years of knowledge and experience has certainly taken my childhood love and interest in nature to a place of a much deeper understanding and appreciation. Now the pieces of the jigsaw are beginning to fit and the bigger picture is much clearer.

If, as the quotes says “as long as you have a garden you have a future” I can safely say having come to know, admire and respect the fantastic team of experts in our National Biodiversity Data Centre, that if we have a future, we can thank this team’s 100% commitment and dedication to doing their utmost to secure that future for us and for all creatures great and small.


Miriam Harvey Graham is studying Applied Freshwater and Marine Biology in GMIT Galway and just completed a four-month internship with the National Biodiversity Data Centre.