Elena Melton: one month at Paths for All

Elena, one of our new Graduate Trainees, reflects on her first month with Paths for All and what her hopes, passions and ambitions are.

Elena Melton has embarked on a trainee placement with us.

I've always been passionate about nature and the environment and doing my bit to help people and the planet. I've been big into cycling since I was little and have competed nationally and internationally in mountain biking. This led me to study an undergraduate degree in Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Stirling through which I also developed knowledge in public health and green health. After I graduated, I worked in a bike hire and outdoor activity centre as a bike mechanic and outdoor instructor for a year. During this year I also spent time volunteering in community organisations, helping at the local food bank, organising a free school uniform swap shop, sitting on the board of a community development organisation and helping to set up a community sustainability organisation.

My interest in the environment, renewable energy, community and sustainability led me to study for a master’s degree at the University of Edinburgh in Energy, Society and Sustainability. This was an incredibly multidisciplinary degree that gave me a great insight into the multifaceted issues of climate change and the just energy transition and how the connection of different sectors can be part of the solution. 

I’m very interested in the intersections between health and sustainability and decarbonisation, and this graduate role seemed like a perfect opportunity to gain work and practical experience within this area. I’m really passionate about the work that Paths for All does and as an organisation, their values and ethos aligned well with my own. I was particularly keen to get experience with influencing behaviour change and using health and physical activity to combat the climate crisis. 

It’s been wonderful getting to know more about the wide variety of things that Paths for All does and working with like-minded people. I have just started working with the Smarter Choices, Smarter Places Open Fund grant scheme and have had the opportunity to visit some of the projects that we fund such as the Bike Station and Cargo Bike Movement in Edinburgh, the Women on Wheels event in Glasgow and Climate Action Strathaven’s bus and travel hub. This was incredibly valuable for understanding the projects’ benefits and challenges within the wider context that they’re situated within and chatting to the passionate people behind them.

I am very fortunate to have grown up in the Cairngorms National Park with the most amazing walking and cycling right on my doorstep. Whilst I do love the mountains and the big adventures that we had access to, my favorite walks and cycles probably have to be the ones you can do right from the doorstep, out into the pine forests that surround the town. I’m very lucky to have had such good access to nature and greenspaces and think that improving biodiversity and access to nature and greenspace is incredibly important.

In terms of the future, I would love to be in a job where I feel like I’m truly making a difference. I’m a big advocate for active travel to improve people’s physical and mental health and help the environment, so I would love to be working within the active travel sector.