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Article and images by Abby, work experience student

My name is Abby, and I am a student at local Sunshine Coast school. As part of our school’s curriculum, our cohort set off for a week in the workforce of their chosen field. I decided to complete my work experience at the Sunshine Coast Council, working with the environmental team across a range of projects. I have always known that I wanted to go into the environmental field, whether it be marine biology or zoology: this week has really helped me to broaden my experience and perception of this line of work. I was fortunate enough to have a Natural Areas Conservation Officer as my supervisor for the week; they had planned the whole week out for me to gain experience in various environmental projects.

My week began on the banks of Coochin Creek, completing a fauna survey. This consisted of checking a series of marsupial and reptile traps and then collecting data on the species that were found, such as the antechinus shown in the picture above. Throughout the week, I was also able to visit multiple flying fox roosts on the Sunshine Coast. I was taught a lot about the characteristics and behaviours of flying foxes, helping me to better understand the amazing creatures they are. It was interesting to view the management plans in place to protect flying foxes in suburban areas. On Tuesday, they took me to a roost with just under 5000 flying foxes; here, I was taught how to count a roost and process this data. On Wednesday, I was fortunate enough to work with The Coastal Team and BlueHeart Team. They took me to numerous sights to view the marine team's current projects. For example, I was able to see the current dredging project in Golden Beach and visit Lake Kawana to view the number of nurdles that had washed up on the shore. Later in the afternoon, I went to the wetlands in Coolum to view the blue carbon project there. Then on Thursday, a member of the Land for Wildlife Team took me to a property out in Maleny to complete a land for wildlife assessment. It was amazing to see the processes undertaken to ensure their property is free of weeds and suitable for native wildlife. Finally, on Friday, I was able to view sprinklers being installed at a flying fox roost site, creating a barrier in-between the flying fox roost and people’s homes. It was fascinating to see how installing these sprinklers benefit both people in the area and the flying foxes.

In summary, it was a busy week, but much was learned, and it was overall a great experience. It will enable me to make an educated choice down the track regarding my suitable lines of study and career direction. I want to thank everyone in Environmental Operations for taking me on this week and sharing their experience of the great work in sustainability and conservation in our local area.