A DEDICATED Greenock volunteer has proved that caring for the environment is in her nature after winning a national award.

Kathleen McMillan, a volunteer conservationist at the Greenock Cut Visitor Centre, was named RSPB 'Young Nature Champion' at the Nature of Scotland awards.

The 26-year-old was thrilled to pick up the prize.

She said: "I'm still in shock.

"Even when I was nominated I thought it would just be a nice night out.

"I did not expect to win."

Over the last few years, Kathleen, a former ranger at the Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park and current chair of the Greenock Cut Volunteer group, has worked tirelessly to promote wildlife and conservation for future generations.

She said: "I received the award because of all the volunteering I've done up at the Greenock Cut Centre and also all the beach cleans I've organised.

"I also worked as a countryside ranger there until June."

Kathleen says conservation work was a hobby which turned into her true passion.

She said: "I love the fact that we take people out and they get to do something which is new to them.

"It's great to see people enjoying the outdoors and enjoying the health and mental health benefits you get from being outdoors.

"I also enjoy taking schoolkids out, especially when you see the pupils who perhaps sometimes misbehave really engage with learning."

Kathleen, a former pupil at Ardgowan Primary and Greenock Academy, received her special award - which was made out of a tree stump - at a prestigious black-tie dinner at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Edinburgh which was hosted by TV presenter, writer and naturalist Kate Humble and BBC Scotland TV and radio presenter and wildlife expert Euan McIlwraith.

Kathleen added: "It was really nice to get to speak to them after the ceremony and they wished me well.

"It was inspirational to meet them, as they are both so well respected."