Graduate Profile

Ashlee Lawrence

Ashlee Lawrence - Environmental Sciences

Biosecurity Officer, Northland Regional Council

“I love my job. I see parts of Northland that no-one else goes to, I meet and liaise with a lot of people connected to the land, and I get to work autonomously in the field.”

Ashlee Lawrence works as a Biosecurity Officer for Northland Regional Council, managing the Freshwater Pest programme for the region, as well as working on the biocontrol agent programme, in particular those that will assist with the control of wild ginger in Northland.

Ashlee’s introduction to working in biosecurity came while she was still studying for her diploma.

“In one of our papers we have ‘practicum’ where we volunteer for 80 hours at an environmental agency, so I rang the NRC and asked if they had any work. I was placed with the biosecurity team and allocated two pest plants to track down and eradicate. I was given a health and safety briefing then was sent out with another student with a truck and eradication gear. We had already completed a GrowSafe Certificate as part of our course so could use chemicals and spray equipment. When the 80 hours was up, I asked if I could continue to work as a volunteer and the rest has developed from there.”

Ashlee points to some specifics from her NorthTec training that have given her confidence in her work skills.

“Our course is the best training for conservationists in Northland. It is heavy on academic training with a focus on monitoring skills that are used by every environmental agency and are a benchmark for employers. That skill set sits against a backdrop of the study of New Zealand’s evolutionary history and why we are one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. We have so many special species here that you won’t find anywhere else in the world.”

Another key study subject that Ashley says dovetails with employment is Geographic Information Systems (GIS), which was recently introduced into NorthTec environmental training.

“Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is a computer-based mapping system and it is becoming essential to employment in environmental work.”

Ashlee strongly recommends that students who are looking for work allied to their training, volunteer some time. “Approach an employer in your related field and offer your time so they get to see what you are capable of. Things unfold from there.”

“My dream is to someday work as a Biodiversity Asset Ranger in the South Island amongst our richly diverse environments down there."

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