DegreeElsa Burnell

Bachelor of Environmental and Conservation Science

Graduation year


Current position

River and Wetlands Project Officer


West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority

What are some of your career highlights?

Although I feel like my career has only just begun, my best moment so far would be watching floodwaters fill a 26ha wetland reinstatement project that was one of my first jobs at the CMA. It was amazing to see this wetland fill, and observe how quickly it bounced back in the following months. To top it off we found endangered Growling Grass Frogs living there a few months later.

Describe the most enjoyable and challenging aspects of your job

Some of the most enjoyable aspects of my job are spending time outdoors, connecting with our local landscape and working with passionate community members and partners to restore and protect Gippsland’s beautiful waterways. Some of the more challenging aspects of my job include working within limited budgets, and assessing and designing solutions for erosion hotspots.

What are your strongest memories while you were studying at the University?

My strongest memories at Fed are definitely the field trips and opportunities I had to travel while studying! These experiences were extremely valuable and helped me connect and engage with my studies in a way that is not possible in a lecture theatre. I also remember a few wow moments when things I had always wondered about in our natural environment suddenly made sense. It was an incredible experience to learn to read and understand the natural landscape in a way I never had before.

Do you have any advice about life after study to pass on to current students?

Enjoy it! Keep learning, be confident in what you know, and don’t be afraid to wait for the right job for you. Starting full-time work can be intimidating, but it is also incredibly fulfilling and its pretty damn awesome to get your weekends back!