Leigh Biagi, Founder of On the Verge
Although she already had a degree in English, Leigh followed her long-term passion for environmental issues by studying U116 Environment: journeys through a changing world with the OU in October 2010. Then a chance encounter with a radio programme on declining numbers of UK bumblebees led her to set up On the Verge, a project to encourage planting of bee-friendly wild flowers in urban areas.
Now she lobbies local authorities, schools and community groups to find suitable areas of land for wild flowers. Her success is impressive – there are now 21 sites around where she lives in Stirling; she has support from local businesses and has started to produce a newsletter. And she’s still studying while bringing up her children.
Key employability skills
The idea for On the Verge came about through a convergence of different things which were happening in my life. But I honestly don’t think I would have had the impetus to make the On the Verge project happen if I hadn’t been studying with the OU at that time. I would have sat with the idea and it would have fizzled out.
I had to be really quite disciplined because On the Verge could be a full-time job. I have to get things done by a certain time to keep the project going so it has always seemed to have to take precedence. But it did make me very disciplined about how I allocated my time between On the Verge and OU.
The knowledge from her OU studies adds extra authority to Leigh’s approach to her professional work, and how she communicates with other people about the project.
I feel that I can talk about environmental issues with some knowledge. I understand a lot more of the science behind it and so can talk about it with a bit more confidence. For this project I have to really understand global issues and their connectivity at a local level and so am more thorough about understanding issues such as climate change and biodiversity.
At first Leigh found the science and maths elements of her module difficult but soon found that a more scientific way of thinking helped her to be more succinct in her thoughts and confident in speaking with others.