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Being a field officer with the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program is a dream job for Deakin University Environmental Science graduate Elise Dewar.
“This is the sort of job I've aspired to since I began my degree at Deakin University in 2005,” Elise said.
Elise’s duties as a field officer include working in the field trapping wild Tasmanian Devils as well as working with the Devils that form part of an insurance population developed in response to the Devil Facial Tumour Disease - a disease threatening the Tasmanian Devil with extinction.
Elise said she thought a number of factors contributed to her career success.
“Obtaining this position has only been possible due to the experience I've gained through volunteer work and subsequent employment, along with the degree itself. The staff at Deakin helped immensely in preparing me for employment, helping arrange my volunteer placements, and providing networking opportunities with employers in the field.”
The emphasis on field work in Deakin’s environment courses was one of the things that attracted Elise.
“I always knew that I wanted to pursue a career that was related to the conservation of threatened species. I also love being outdoors and wanted to find a course that would lead me towards employment that incorporated both of these things,” she said.“The strong focus on practical skills and field work in the environmental science area attracted me to the Bachelor of Environmental Science (Wildlife Conservation and Biology) course at Deakin. I found that most environmental courses offered at other universities had a stronger focus on traditional theoretical science and did not offer as much field work or opportunities to apply skills outdoors in realistic situations.
“The course also gave me key skills in areas such as team-work, organisation and report writing. Particularly through the units that involved designing, implementing and coordinating small research projects, then analysing and reporting on the findings in a professional manner.”
Elise said the opportunity to study in Costa Rica for a semester was also a highlight of her degree.
“The units I studied in Costa Rica included tropical conservation biology, two units of Spanish, and 'Dances of Latin America' for fun! I lived with a local Costa Rican family, learned about the local culture and customs, and undertook field trips related to marine and tropical biology.
“Afterwards I extended my field experience by travelling and volunteering with several programs throughout Central America: a wildlife shelter, marine turtle conservation project, and a community based program establishing and protecting an environmental reserve.”
Volunteer work is high on Elise’s list of recommendations for people considering a career in the environmental science field.
“I suggest doing as much volunteer work as possible in a relevant field to help give you the necessary practical skills and networks for employment. Doing volunteer work also gives you a way of applying concepts, in different settings, as you learn them through your course,” Elise said.
Photo: Studying in Costa Rica during her degree was a highlight for Elise.