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Meet the Staff

Paul Sharman – St Kilda Ranger

From an early career as a local authority horticulturalist, ‘green’ ambitions led me into countryside management. Following seasonal positions with the National Trust for England and Wales and Dartmoor National Park I spent eleven years as a hands-on Warden for the National Trust Killerton Estate in Devon; ancestral home of the Dyke-Acland family. Leaving the National Trust in 2000 I remedied my mis-spent youth by going to University as a mature student. I graduated with a Doctorate in Human Geography in 2008, my speciality being the cultural ecology of Britain’s national landscapes. Along the way I collected a BA in Culture, Environment and Landscape, with a Masters in Conservation of Cultural Landscapes. Since then a couple of temporary lecturing positions at agricultural colleges in Devon and Somerset.

My personal interests range from just about everything countryside to playing folk music and storytelling. I have been known to venture forth in a sea-kayak and regularly enjoy hill walking and cycling. Previous wondering and wandering has, amongst travels in the US and Europe, taken me to the mountains of Ladakh, the temperate uplands of Cameroon and crossing the Sahara Desert.

As 19thcentury benefactor, Thomas Dyke-Acland provided for my former staff cottage as he did for his contemporary St. Kildans. As a wondering newcomer to the islands I follow his wanderings from Devon.

Craig Stanford – Archaeologist

Born and raised in the American South to a Scottish mum and an American dad, I have lived in Scotland for nearly my entire adult life. My undergraduate was jointly Archaeology and History at the University of Aberdeen, and my MLitt was at the University of Glasgow in Material Culture and Artefact Studies. In between degrees I worked as a guide at Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness and at Cape Henry Lighthouse in Virginia, where I got the hang of interpreting complex sites for the public. After my degree at Glasgow I worked as a post-excavation specialist for an important Viking Age Orcadian excavation, then for a small but active commercial archaeology company based in Southwest Scotland.

Archaeologically my interests have long been in the Early Medieval, especially the Viking Age in Scotland and the North Atlantic. However my travels around Scotland, especially to places like Culross and Culzean, have sparked my interest in the Late Medieval and Post medieval periods. Living on Hirta for 20 weeks out of the year is an excellent opportunity expand on my experience and really get to know all of the facets of this island and its archaeology!

Craig Stanford

Gina Prior – St Kilda Ranger

After graduating in 2002 with a BSc in Animal Behaviour I decided it was time to gain some hands on practical experience in the ‘real world’. Initially, I worked as a research assistant at Chester Zoo collecting data on the behavior of black rhino and collating questionnaires relating to the welfare of Orangutans. A year later, I was accepted as a volunteer on the Soay Sheep Project on St Kilda and it wasn’t long before I became addicted! In the last eight years I have visited the island on ten occasions to help with all aspects of the research. Each trip provided new challenges and adventures as well as a fantastic opportunity to explore the island a little bit more. Between visits to St Kilda, I had plenty of time to enjoy other work including a summer on Harris as a volunteer on The Hebridean Mink Project and a stint with an ecological consultancy firm in the South of England. With some experience under my belt, I headed back to the classroom. Earlier this year I completed my PhD assessing the impacts of livestock grazing on a common upland passerine (the meadow pipit). Studying allowed me to indulge my interests in natural history, hill walking, bird watching and bird ringing and all these aspects of my life will be helpful as Seabird Ranger. I have always felt privileged to visit St Kilda – I love the place, the community spirit and the wildlife – I really do have my dream job!

Gina Prior

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