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People's Choice Awards 2020

Category: School Based Apprentice/Trainee of the Year

Cassandra O'Carroll

Cassandra O'CarrollQualification: Certificate II in Conservation and Land Management
Trained by: Kiama Community College
Group Training Organisation: HVTC Pty Ltd
Hosted by: Shoalhaven City Council
School: Bomaderry High School

“I want to expand my knowledge of the local environment and the challenges it currently faces so I can protect it as best I can.”

Cassandra is thrilled to be undertaking her school-based traineeship in the threatened species section of the environmental services department of Shoalhaven City Council.

“I’ve gained a deeper understanding about the issues facing the threatened Grey-Headed Flying Fox and the policies that protect them,” says Cassandra. “I’ve engaged with residents who have flying foxes in their yards and undertaken community awareness regarding their protection. Policy is a huge part of environmental work and this traineeship has exposed me to the inner workings of conservation legislation.”

During the recent fires, in which her family were greatly impacted, Cassandra was able to apply the scientific skills she’d learnt at Kiama Community College to help injured wildlife.

Cassandra O'Carroll“I’m documenting fatalities, epicormic regrowth after fire and compiling data around weed invasion, feral predation, sedimentation of creeks, and species’ proliferation. I’m also dealing with the public, helping them support the recovery of starving and helpless wildlife.”

Cassandra’s traineeship has provided her with an opportunity to build her conservation networks and meet like-minded people.

“I deeply value the mentorship I’ve received from these experienced and knowledgeable people who are specialists in their field.”

Karen Eveleigh, Cassandra’s field officer at her group training organisation HVTC, says Cassandra is an integral part of the threatened species team.

“The staff at Shoalhaven City Council joke that Cassandra should quit school and work with them full-time,” says Karen. “One of Cassandra’s formal reports was recently tabled at a council meeting, which demonstrates the maturity of her communications and her elevated skill level.”

As school captain of Bomaderry High School, Cassandra created the Sustainable Schools Competition where schools compete for prize money by undertaking eco-friendly initiatives.

“I’ve also acquired a $400 grant to purchase native tubestock for the school’s gardens and sought donations from nurseries,” says Cassandra. “Jamberoo nursery is donating over 80 plants and the Milton nursery have given us 40 Allocasuarina Littoralis species. These will aesthetically enhance our school and attract threatened species like the Glossy Black Cockatoo.”

As Year 11 dux, Cassandra participated in the Duke of Edinburgh Award, was joint recipient of the Victor Chang Science Award and a nominee for the Globe Green Awards.

Cassandra volunteers with National Parks Wildlife Services, was a speaker at the school strike for climate rallies, a participant in the Sonder Youth Leadership Program Member and is a member of the Youth Voice group who promote positive change in their communities.

Upon finishing year 12, Cassandra wants to pursue a university degree in environmental science and conservation biology, enabling her to become an environmental researcher.

“I would highly recommend VET as it boosts your employability and gives you practical training. You gain so many positive experiences and have the support of different organisations. Most importantly, you meet new people who can open doors and help you on your way to success.”