The Chief Forester's Challenge - Competition Judges


Dr Helen McKay really likes trees. She is the Chief Forester for Scotland - this is a ministerial appointment to provide advice about forestry, act as Head of Profession, and promote professional forestry in Scotland.

Dr McKay holds a BSc in Ecological Science and PhD from Edinburgh University. She has spent most of her career researching how trees and forests grow. She is currently a Research Fellow with Forest Research and a Trustee of the Scottish Forestry Trust along with her role as Chief Forester. In 2020 she was awarded an OBE for her services to forest science and forestry. 

I hope you enjoy designing your perfect treehouse. A space made from lots of timber can help you to be happy especially if the treehouse lets you see and look carefully at the animals and plants round about.


Bonnie Maggio is the Education and Skills Policy Advisor within Scottish Forestry’s Business, Skills and Innovation team and has worked in the Outdoor Learning sector in Scotland for many years. Bonnie manages Scottish Forestry’s education work in and about trees, forests and woodlands and oversees work on skills development for the forestry sector. This includes managing Outdoor & Woodland Learning Scotland, developing Forest Kindergarten, creating Scottish Forestry’s Education Resources for teachers and providing continuing professional development opportunities for education practitioners.

“As a big fan of treehouses I am thrilled to have been asked to judge the competition and see the creativity and variety of the entries from schools around the country.”


Dr Liz Barron-Majerik is the Scotland Director of Lantra, an organisation committed to the development and support of skills in Scotland’s land-based and aquaculture sectors. Lantra is also heavily involved in the promotion of these sectors as positive and rewarding career options; stimulating investment in learning and skills development.

Prior to taking on this role Liz was Head of Natural and Applied Science for Inverness College UHI. With an academic background in plant science, Liz holds a degree in Botany and PhD in Agronomy. In 2011 she gained an MBE for her work engaging young people in STEM, setting up and running the Inverness Science Festival and STEMinars.


Alastair is the Chief Executive Officer of SSERC, an organisation that offers a broad portfolio of services, principally in support of the STEM areas of the curriculum, including; provision of Professional Learning for early years, primary and secondary teachers, school and college technicians, childminders and community learning and development officers; The Advisory Service supporting safe STEM-based practical classroom activities, and a range of STEM engagement activities including the Young STEM Leader programme, the STEM Ambassador Programme in Scotland, Education and Industry Partnerships.

Alastair is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Scottish Mentoring Network and the Institute of Food Science and Technology, where he chairs the Education Committee and the Volunteers’ Advisory Committee, and an active STEM Ambassador.