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From volunteer to team leader: How Lauren Clery climbed her way through her dream environmental conservation organisation

People find amazing jobs on EthicalJobs.com.au every day. This is part of a series of blog posts that go behind the scenes to meet some of the people and organisations finding each other through EthicalJobs.com.au.

Today’s story is from Lauren Clery, who found her job as the Skilling Queenslanders for Work Trainee Supervisor at Conservation Volunteers Australian (CVA) on EthicalJobs.com.au.

Founded in 1982, Conservation Volunteers Australia is an Australian not-for-profit conservation organisation that attracts and coordinates volunteers for environmental restoration projects. It employs staff in areas including conservationmanagementfinance and more.

Starting out with work

My first ever paid job was working for John Deere in Brisbane. I would go in once a fortnight and create invoices for dealers and email them out. I worked there for a couple of years while in high school before moving to Townsville to begin my studies. It was a valuable experience as it taught me the importance of a good work ethic and that working in an office environment probably wasn’t for me.

After finishing high school, I went on to study a BSc majoring in marine biology at James Cook University. Most of my subjects focused on marine ecology and marine management.

When I first started out I wasn’t sure what I wanted to focus on, but found along the way that the classes that focused on management were my favourite.

After taking some time off, I returned to James Cook to complete my MSc in environmental management to continue to pursue this passion. I still have 18 months left to complete but am using my time at CVA and my studies to learn more about the different careers that are available to me within this sector.

Before my current job I did numerous hospitality roles as well as work as a PADI Open Water Dive Instructor on the Gold Coast. As a dive instructor I was in charge of leading people on dives from a diverse range of backgrounds and levels of experience. Each dive presented a different challenge and I found it incredibly rewarding to assist people in reaching their diving goals and empowering them to care about the state of the world’s oceans.

My degree was incredibly useful when teaching divers about the ocean and the animals in it. But after interacting with the public and seeing how sharing this knowledge and experience encouraged people to do more, I was ready to return to university and find a way to incorporate people power into environmental management.

Working at Conservation Volunteers Australia

CVA looks to inspire change by connecting people with nature. We partner with individuals, businesses and governments to help conserve and restore natural environments through the use of volunteers.

One of CVA’s main values is empowering individuals to make change, which is something that I strongly believe in and that excited me to work for this organisation. Their commitment to safety and the diverse range of projects they are involved with also made them a stand out organisation for me.

I’m the Skilling Queenslanders for Work Trainee Supervisor. My position involves leading a team of nine trainees completing their certificate I in Conservation and Land Management to complete land restoration work around the Cape Pallarenda Conservation Park and surrounding areas.

Since the traineeship started, we have managed to get a serious start on managing the copious number of weeds that have grown around the quarantine station located in the conservation park. We have also assisted parks with removal of pest trees that have blocked the magnificent sea view, opening up the area for recreational use.

Why work for a better world?

I’ve always just wanted to do my part for the environment, with money not being a driving factor for me. I feel a responsibility to help protect and sustain the world that we live in for future generations to enjoy.

Working for a not-for-profit like CVA means that I am able to share my passion for the environmentwith other volunteers and help to engage and empower members of the public who may not know about all the good work that volunteering can do.

To land an ethical job, I’d say volunteer as much as you can and just keep looking! My first experience with conservation work was actually with CVA as a volunteer on their Creek Watch program, so it’s a bit surreal to now be working for them as a team leader all these years later.

Like anything, perseverance pays off so it’s important to just keep looking, keep putting yourself out there and keep trying new things. You’ll never know what you’ll enjoy or where it will take you if you let the opportunity pass you by.


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