It’s hard to say which one event inspired Ashley Fourie’s passion for change. Maybe it was growing up in beautiful Zimbabwe, a country known for its stunning landscape and wildlife. Or maybe it was learning to travel between Australia and Zimbabwe from a young age and seeing the radical difference between the two countries. Or perhaps it was a Youth TED Talk that she says inspired her to use her career to gain skills that would make an impact on pressing social and environmental issues.
Two years ago, Ashley decided to redirect her life’s work to protecting the environment. But she knew that she needed some additional knowledge and skills to get there. That’s when she hopped on the University of Tasmania’s website and found the Master of Protected Area Governance and Management.
“I was feeling like I needed to do something different with my life and happened to see a Youth TED talk about finding a meaningful career through identifying how you might learn skills that can in some way apply to the biggest problem that you think is most urgent, rather than solely following your passion,” she says.
“For me that was deforestation and threat to species diversity globally, and that I saw in Africa to an alarming degree. I started looking for post-graduate courses in environment, knowing that I didn’t have the time or financial means to go back and do another undergraduate degree.
Ashley then received an encouraging phone call from the course coordinator, Dr Vanessa Adams.
“Dr Vanessa Adams assured me that my work and study experience was still useful and that I would be taught the environmental science background that I lacked.”
The conversation was enough to inspire Ashley to pack up her life in Melbourne into her tiny car and move to Tasmania.
“Once I had made the decision, I was all in and I was ready for whatever was next” she says.
“What could be better than studying the natural environment and its management in Tasmania, with so much incredible landscape on offer to explore.”
Ashley says she landed a nursing job in Hobart, then packed up her life into her car and took the ferry to Hobart, to start a new adventure. She says that although moving to a new place can be scary, the Tasmanian people have been welcoming.
“It’s intimidating to completely change your life, but I like the thrill and achievement of it.”
“I’m enjoying the course and the contact with other students and with staff.”
At the University of Tasmania, students are given plenty of opportunity to get out into the environment and have hands-on experience in their field. Ashley says the field trips were a huge highlight for her.
I really enjoyed the Tasman National Park field trip that we did in 2019 and I walked the Three Capes Track right after that unit. It was great to be in a landscape and have a deeper understanding of its natural values and how it was managed.
Ashley has reflected on her time studying online and says it has been full of great connections.
“It’s been a bit strange to be studying mostly online, but I’ve made some good connections with people and have had a good experience creating groups of friends in the different units. For instance, I’ve made a couple of great friends from one of the business units and we still meet regularly.”
Ashley says the Master of Protected Area Governance and Management course has really opened her eyes to the areas and skills that have a huge impact on conservation management.
“I’m doing this course to get some environmental science, spatial science and business skills and together with my previous studies, I am optimistic about where this can take me.”
Banner image credit: Mt Paris Dam, environmental recovery assessment, near Derby in Tasmania's North-East.