GAF Story

Louise Nicholas

The Gordon
Diploma of Conservation and Land Management

Louise Nicholas, Gordon Scholar

Louise fills us in on her future career goal of planning environmental projects and thinking about the bigger picture of catchment management.

How did you feel when you were awarded a George Alexander Foundation scholarship?

I honestly couldn’t believe it when I found out I was successful! I knew my classmates were strong candidates, so I’m sure it wasn’t easy to choose from all the applications. But it gave me a lift to know that I was worthy of the scholarship, I was excited!

What has it meant to you? What has it made possible?

I felt incredibly proud to receive the GAF scholarship because it felt like recognition of the effort I was putting into my studies and the extra work I was doing through volunteering. The scholarship paid for the second year of my Diploma, so I didn’t have to stress about the amount of money I was spending on fuel travelling to and from TAFE. I also splashed out and bought some nerdy nature books I’d had my eye on.

It’s also pushed me, somewhat unexpectedly, into the spotlight as a role model for vocational education and proving that it's never to late to find your dream career. I’ve taken this opportunity to promote the need for greater appreciation and protection of our natural environment.

Where are you hoping your course will take you (your goal/ambition)?

I’m aiming for a job that involves planning environmental projects and thinking about the bigger picture of catchment management. And because I love working with people I’d also like a role with an element of community engagement. Melbourne’s population is growing rapidly and climate change complicates matters, so I’m looking forward to dealing with these challenges in the environmental realm.

Do you do any community/volunteer work? Why is this important to you?

As Secretary of the Friends of Kororoit Creek, I’ve met many enthusiastic people in my community and gained valuable practical experience in project managing our community plantings in addition to secretarial duties. I volunteer in bird surveys with Birdlife Australia and microbat surveys with the Friends of Organ Pipes National Park. There are so many different activities going on, I wish I had more time to get amongst them all! Also, as a self-confessed nature nerd, I enjoy writing blogs and sharing photos on my website.

I believe that education is the key to connecting with people and helping them to understand and value the spectacular plants and animals we have in Australia. By sharing interesting nuggets of information about flora and fauna, I try to inspire people to get involved in protecting and enhancing the natural environment.

If you could say anything (except ‘thank you’) to George Alexander, what would it be?

After reading George Alexander’s story and learning about his passion for the environment and education, I'd have to say that I admire his vision and appreciate his generosity. His forward thinking in investing in people has given me and many others assistance to not only succeed in our studies but also to put ourselves forward as future leaders in our chosen careers.

Gaze into the crystal ball… what do you see for yourself ten years from now?

If anything was possible, I’d like to study ecology and start my own business as a consultant ecologist, working to engage the community in conservation and biodiversity projects.