22 December 2010

Studying externally has been a way of life for Caroline Harris, who recently graduated with a Master of Rangeland Management from The University of Queensland at a ceremony held on the Gatton Campus.

Mrs Harris grew up in the Iron pot district, north of Dalby where she completed Primary School, two degrees in Economics and Natural Resource Economics and most recently completed her Masters all via distance education.

“I have no trouble doing distance education, but it is possibly from my background of starting school that way. I have never really coped with classrooms” Mrs Harris said.

An involvement with cattle and cropping properties since birth, plus her work with natural resource economics, allowed her to see the importance of enrolling in the program.

“The programs have been developed by Rangelands Australia, a centre at UQ Gatton, and allow people on the land to study via distance education, giving them the opportunity to not only take part in highly relevant tertiary study, but also to connect with other people all over Australia who are working on the rangelands “ Mrs Harris said.

"Rangelands Australia also understands that a number of the students are working in remote areas and have structured the programs and deliver them accordingly in either distance or intensive modes.

“They are very aware that the majority of us are on properties.

"So they take into account the seasonal nature of the work.

"When it is harvest time we have to drop everything, and the rangelands courses cater to that variability. It gives people in remote and rural areas the opportunity to take part in tertiary study.”

The rangelands program also acted as a means of linking the knowledge that the people working on properties had with researchers at UQ, CSIRO and in the Queensland Government.

‘We have an enormous amount of practical knowledge about our local areas and it is important to connect this knowledge with the scientists and them to us," Mrs Harris said.

“Eighty per cent of the Australian land mass is classified as rangelands and in this area it is crucial that we look after our Agricultural land.

"I feel very passionate about this educational opportunity that the Rangeland Management Program and UQ have given us in rural and remote Australia, and I encourage others to enrol and benefit from this experience.”

The Rangelands Australia initiative began in 2001 and the Rangeland Management program has seen 15 students graduate this year and a further 34 graduate over the past 5 years.

There are currently over 60 students, from across Australia, enrolled in the program.

For more information on studying programs in Rangeland Management visit http://uq.edu.au/study/search.html?keywords=rangeland+management&searchType=all&archived=true.

Media: Erin Pearl, 0754 601 229