Last year six graduates started their new career in agricultural extension through the Queensland Government funded Reef Extension Agriculture Work Placement Initiative. The graduates were placed within NRM or agricultural organisations from Mossman to Gympie with the explicit purpose in helping to foster and mentor the next generation of extension professionals across the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) catchments in Queensland.
Bachelor of Advanced Science with majors in zoology and ecology graduate Lili Usher-Chandler was placed with Private Forestry Service Queensland (PFSQ) in Gympie to work in forestry, silviculture, horticulture, grazing land management, timber processing and environmental conservation.
The move into the forestry industry was new for Lili, however It was able to built upon her experience with ecology and soon fostered her passion for conservation through working alongside landholders as they sustainably managed their businesses and properties.
“Learning directly from land holders and graziers about their sustainable approaches to farming taught me a lot about how agriculture can be a very practical application of conservation,” said Ms Usher-Chandler.
“I came into this role with a very rudimental and limited understanding of forestry and how it impacted landholders and the environment.”
“Working within PFSQ exposed me to things and practical experiences I could only have gotten on the ground.”
“The highlight for me has been the ability to directly assist landholders improving their water quality through the use of tools like geographic information system (GIS) mapping, drone piloting and using silviculture techniques.”
“I am able to learn a lot about the attitudes land holders had towards conservation. Landholders clearly want to do the right thing in managing their land as sustainable practices deliver better long-term economic returns while allowing them to meet their legal and social expectations.”
“Giving farmers and landholders the tools to help them work towards their goal as a sustainable producer is very rewarding.”
“The Reef Extension Work Placement has provided me to make a practical change and helped position me towards my long-term professional aspirations as a conservationist.”
“The graduate program has offered me opportunities and has directly benefited landholders and the forestry industry. I would strongly recommend it to graduates looking for real world experience to make a difference.”
“Agricultural extension is a fulfilling career that aims at extending a hand out to rural communities and supporting sustainable practice change”.