Having reached a crossroads in her career, with a dream to live and work in the great Australian outdoors, Hannah Clemen decided to make a major lifestyle change at the age of 40, while working full-time in retail and running a martial arts school.
Two years on Ms Clemen is thriving in her new employment as a park ranger with Parks Victoria in the historic gold-mining town of Beechworth, nestled between picturesque historic parks and the wildnerness of Chiltern-Mt Pilot National Park.
Parks Victoria employs over 400 rangers across the state who look after more than 100 national parks, wilderness areas, state and metropolitan parks that are home to more than 4,300 native plants and around 1,000 native animal species, thousands of Aboriginal and post-European settlement cultural and heritage sites, several local ports and major rivers, and around 70 per cent of Victoria’s coastline.
“I come from a very different professional background in events management, education and performing arts, so making this life altering decision was pretty daunting,” Ms Clemens said. “After much soul-searching about what career would really make me happy, I decided to study a Diploma of Conservation and Land Management with TAFE Digital.”
When researching a number of training organisations that offered online study options, it soon became clear to Ms Clemen that TAFE Digital offered the most comprehensive, industry-relevant course which would not require an inordinate amount of study time, as she was working full time.
“Although this course was not an essential requirement, the knowledge and practical skills I gained while studying the Diploma gave me a much better standing when applying for jobs with Parks Victoria. My new ranger position at Beechworth will involve quite a lot of biodiversity protection work, working with legislation and environmental laws, and community/stakeholder interaction, all of which was covered during the course,” said Ms Clemen.
Scheduling flexible timelines for study, assignments and field work was particularly important when she moved to regional Victoria, as she still had work commitments in Melbourne.
When asked about the highlights of her studies, Ms Clemen explained that a few assignments were particularly large-scale because the field site she chose was complex, with a number of different vegetation communities and environmental challenges. She learnt how to prepare botanical samples and improve her skills in plant identification and has already been able to use her knowledge in project planning, asset mapping and vegetation surveying, pest plant and animal control work.
Doing the Diploma of Conservation and Land Management has given Ms Clemen inspiration and ideas for where she might like to take her studies in the future. “As well as reading books and asking advice from staff at Parks Victoria and the Royal Botanic Gardens, I also gained insight into biodiversity issues at the practical week facilitated by TAFE Digital in Western Sydney.”
Media contact: Bonny Gunn, TAFE Digital Media Business Partner. Mobile 0417 134 048