Michelle had been working for Toyota for 19 years when it was announced the company would close its Australian manufacturing operations.
She said that decision gave her the opportunity to follow her passion and she enrolled in the Diploma of Conservation and Land Management at South West TAFE.
“I had always loved wildlife and it was the perfect time to gain the skills to work in this field,” she said.
During her Diploma of Conservation and Land Management course, Michelle continued to work full-time at Toyota, where she travelled an hour each morning and night from her home in Gisborne.
She also travelled to Warrnambool to attend regular workshops and even found time to volunteer on tree planting projects and in wildlife rescue.
This role involved checking on animals which had been injured and transporting them to vets or wildlife carers.
Michelle completed her course at the end of 2017 and was rewarded for her hard work by winning the Vocational Student of the Year at South West TAFE’s Graduation and Awards ceremony.
Since completing her course, Michelle gained employment at Macedon Ranges Shire Council as a casual administration officer. Through this she has had the opportunity to work with the environment department assisting with Roadside Vegetation Assessments.
She said the role consisted of assessing the conservation value of roadside vegetation which would influence the council’s roadside management plan.
“I’ve really enjoyed being able to put the knowledge I have gained through my course into practice.
“It’s also helped me build a relationship with others in the Environment department and will possibly lead to further work on Environment projects. It has also assisted me with improving my flora ID knowledge,” she said.
She has just gained a permanent role with the council’s Emergency Management unit and will continue to work casually in the Environment team.
Michelle said the sense of achievement she had felt since completing her diploma was amazing and the hard work had all been worthwhile.