Supporting future NRM leaders

16 March 2020

As a small conservation organisation we understand the value of providing these meaningful opportunities to students of natural resource management.

It not only give the students a real taste for working in the conservation and environmental sector, but it also provides us with many valuable insights and benefits

Recently we’ve been privileged to support two students – Jake Manning and Sophia Bagatsing – in different ways. Read below for their stories.

Work experience with Jake

In February, Jake Manning completed work experience with us as part of his Environmental Science studies at Deakin University.

Jake was tasked with updating some of our extensive spatial data, as well as undertaking environmental monitoring of shorebirds and waterbirds across our region’s internationally significant Ramsar wetlands. He also attended a number of project meetings, where saw first-hand how different agencies and conservation groups come together to plan and implement biodiversity action.

Being a small organisation, we at the Port Phillip & Westernport CMA don’t often get the opportunity to host students,

Jake’s thoughts? “Work placement at PPWCMA has been incredible, I couldn’t have felt more welcome by all the staff which made the entire experience that much more enjoyable. While here, I have been able to monitor threatened and endangered birds, build on my mapping skills, as well as witness the future proofing of our public lands. The past three weeks has been an incredible insight into the hard work that goes into environmental project management every day and I cannot thank them enough for it.”

A big thanks to Jake, our Environmental Projects Coordinator Andrew Morrison for hosting Jake, and to all of our partners for making him feel welcome.

Mentoring with Sophia

As part of the Mornington Peninsula Landcare Network’s Women in Conservation Mentoring Program, Agricultural Science student, Sophia Bagatsing, was paired with the PPWCMA’s Regional Agriculture Facilitator, Karen Thomas.

The purpose of the program is to provide professional development opportunities to the mentors and mentees through leadership strengthening and sharing mentor wisdom with the next generation of leaders in natural resource management.

Each month , Sophia and Karen have a Skype catch up and work through the program’s topics including goals, aspirations, elevator speeches and volunteering opportunities in the conservation and agricultural food systems sector. Below Sophia shares her story.

“I started out like many millennials, struggling to figure out what I wanted in life. Having completed a business degree, there was pressure to simply conform and work for one of the top 100 companies’. For a while, I dabbled in market research, events management, fundraising, and retail and sales, but I was hungry for a career that helped make the world a better place.

“When I worked in hospitality, I found myself on a food journey – I started behind the counter serving sandwiches and coffee; then in the kitchen as the chef of my own rice-bowl business; then I ended up in a farm learning about how food is grown.

“As I went further up the supply chain, I started to look at food differently. I learned about closed loop and zero waste systems, and I was so fascinated by organic farms that I started planting my own vegetables. As I enjoyed eating my freshly harvested lettuce and tomatoes, I began to consider that maybe a city-girl like me has what it takes to work the land.

“After visiting my grandmother’s hometown, I realized that I am the product of four generations of farmers. My paternal and maternal grandparents all hail from small rice farming villages in the Philippines. Maybe becoming a farmer is in my genes?

“Since then, I have wanted to fight global warming by creating and supporting sustainable food systems. Moving to Melbourne has allowed me to volunteer with The Werribee Heritage Orchard, Transition Australia, UN Youth, and Landcare Victoria.

“I’ve met so many great folks who love the land as much as I do, and they’ve shown me that we all have what it takes to do our part for Mother Nature. I’m so excited to be part of the future of Agriculture. If you were able to eat today, I hope you find the time to thank a farmer.”