Magazine article Geographical

Finding the Funds for Foreign Fieldwork: RGS-IBG Grants Officer Greg Dow Speaks to University of Oxford Masters Student Michael Riddell, Who Has Won Three RGS-IBG Geographical Fieldwork Grants, for Expeditions to Namibia, Kazakhstan and the Congo

Magazine article Geographical

Finding the Funds for Foreign Fieldwork: RGS-IBG Grants Officer Greg Dow Speaks to University of Oxford Masters Student Michael Riddell, Who Has Won Three RGS-IBG Geographical Fieldwork Grants, for Expeditions to Namibia, Kazakhstan and the Congo

Article excerpt

What first drew you into the field?

I've always had a Keen interest in natural history and developed a fascination for Africa during my teens worked after school for four months to fund six months of travelling southern and eastern Africa. attended a field-guide course South Africa and haven't looked back.

Your first RGS-IBG grant was for a red hartebeest survey in Namibia in 2003. What prompted you to approach the Society?

I met Dr Peter Garson of the Newcastle University Exploration Council, having been intrigued by posters around me university. Peter was an inspiration and Kept me expeditions focused.

Did your association with the RGS-IBG open doors for your team?

We would have been lost if we hadn't attended me Explore conference [the RGS-IBG's annual expedition-planning seminar]. Our plans dramatically evolved, and when we received the Society's endorsement things really started to happen. The support makes sponsors and collaborators think, "These folks are serious."

You've used inventive fundraising methods, including a sponsored 65-kilometre run. Do you enjoy fundraising?

It's all part of the expedition. The hard work isn't always in the field, but filling in application forms, writing proposals, organising logistics. I enjoy the fundraising when it goes well, and enjoy the strange looks I get when I go to local firms and say, "I'm going to the Congo, do you have any spare cash?" I don't advise the 65-kilometre run--I slept for 15 hours afterwards. …

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