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From Sengkang to Ang Mo Kio: She's making walkways prettier for you
By Pearlyn Tham
National Parks Board Undergraduate Scholarship SPH Scholars Choice
Ms Pearlynn Sim’s job involves coordinating and implementing strategies to achieve Singapore’s vision of being a City in Nature. PHOTO: NATIONAL PARKS BOARD

This NParks scholar has a vision of building a green and sustainable country now and for future generations

If you have noticed a more calming and colourful vibe to Singapore’s walkways during your recent strolls, you can thank Ms Pearlynn Sim for that.

The 28-year-old was a streetscape manager at National Parks Board (NParks) up until June 2022, managing roadside greenery in Sengkang and Ang Mo Kio while providing a more pleasant and lush environment for pedestrians. 

One way Ms Sim achieved this was by planting more greenery to provide shade and lessen the heat generated from the roads. She opted for native flora such as the purple bamboo orchid flowers, the lush seashore ardisia bushes with pink star-shaped flowers and red-barked mempat trees. 

These native plants are planted in a way that they mimic the natural structure of forests for birds and insects to move freely between green spaces, says Ms Sim. 

More on this topic: She’s a green warrior and proud of it

“These green corridors also serve as additional habitats for these types of biodiversity,” she adds. 

Today, Ms Sim’s role as a corporate strategy and planning manager is to coordinate and implement strategies that achieve NParks’ vision for a City in Nature. It is one of the key pillars of the Singapore Green Plan 2030 which aims to make the country more green, liveable and sustainable.

“In a small city-state like Singapore, people share the same space as greenery and wildlife,” says the NParks scholar.

“To navigate challenges such as a lack of space, my colleagues and I aim to raise awareness and share more on the benefits of greenery in providing shade or lowering temperature, among other things.”

When work is second nature

Ms Sim’s love for animals, biodiversity and nature conservation started from a young age. Once a month, her animal-lover parents would take her to the zoo. 

At Raffles Institution where she read mathematics, geography, biology and chemistry, she enrolled in their Raffles Ecological Literacy Programme and co-authored You Been to Ubin? – a children’s book that raises awareness about threats to marine life at Pulau Ubin. The book was sold in bookstores and distributed at local libraries.

“I enjoy working with like-minded colleagues who love nature and the outdoors”

– Ms Pearlynn Sim, recipient of the NParks Undergraduate Scholarship

After her A levels, she further pursued her interest by joining local nature groups like NUS Toddycats!, TeamSeaGrass and International Coastal Cleanup Singapore, spending almost every weekend taking part in their activities. 

An internship attachment with her current employer NParks – where she organised the annual Festival of Biodiversity that creates awareness about Singapore’s natural heritage – motivated her to apply for the NParks Undergraduate Scholarship in 2013.

“I wanted to be a part of Singapore’s environmental scene and was keen to join an organisation with a vision that strongly resonates with my own aspirations,” says Ms Sim. 

In 2018, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources Conservation (with first class honours) from the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada and joined NParks full time the same year. 

One of Ms Sim’s more memorable experiences at NParks has been to coordinate the OneMillionTrees movement which aims to plant one million more trees across Singapore by 2030.

As part of this initiative, Ms Sim endeavours to cultivate community partnerships with organisations and individuals who want to contribute to the movement; curate publicity resources; explore ways to increase awareness; and recruit volunteers.

No two days are the same for Ms Sim and she loves that she gets to combine her personal interests with her job. 

“I enjoy working with like-minded colleagues who love nature and the outdoors,” she says.

“It is also inspiring to work in an environment where everyone wants to help NParks transform Singapore into a City of Nature.”

Thriving overseas
Ms Pearlynn Sim shares tips on how to make the most of your scholarship experience

Pick a well-rounded course: Ms Sim opted for the multi-disciplinary Natural Resources Conservation programme at UBC as it allowed her to understand the environmental, socio-cultural and economic issues that surround nature conservation.

Meet with like-minded individuals: When she spent a semester in Haida Gwaii, an archipelago off the British Columbia coast with a unique conservation strategy, Ms Sim interacted with peers from a diverse community and broadened her exposure to different views on world issues.

Take part in extracurricular activities: At UBC, she was part of the museum guiding and outreach team at the university’s Beaty Biodiversity Museum. “It was therapeutic to share about the incredible diversity of flora and fauna with visitors.”

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