SSAA donation eases the load on environmental adventure

Student Billy Curtis hit the jackpot as part of his studies at the University of Tasmania with an $800 grant handed down as part of the SSAA Academic Bursary program. Billy, 22, is originally from Queensland where he earned a Bachelor of Business (Accounting & Economic) degree at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

Growing up in Bundaberg, he was blessed to have parents and grandparents who were farmers at heart and their passion has been passed on to him. He hopes to make use of this to further his educational adventures in new surrounds on the Apple Isle, while he lives in Hobart’s Blackmans Bay for the duration of his change of base. “For a young fellow it was easy to take the farming life for granted but one thing you never forget is the skills, knowledge and gratitude you have towards the land,” said Billy.

His focus in Tasmania is on securing a Bachelor of Science, Environment & Geography major and Ecology minor which will keep him busy until June 2023. The move to Tasmania hasn’t been straightforward given the challenges we’ve all faced this year but the financial input from SSAA will help Billy press ahead with his studies. “It has made a big difference in my general life,” he said. “Moving so far away is difficult and has meant giving up a few things.”

But Billy is pushing on and knows his agricultural background has him well placed, as the future of conservation as sustainable food production becomes more important. And with a Bachelor of Business degree already in the bag he’s expertly qualified to explore farms, companies, workplaces and environmental issues from a business-based perspective.

With the world such an uncertain place at the moment, Billy hopes his itinerary will eventually be able to go ahead as planned. He has already lived and studied in the city of Fulda in Germany and Brno in the Czech Republic and managed a self-sustainable farming project in Tenerife for three months.

His thorough knowledge in wholesale nursery work will be a solid foundation for volunteering and working on conservation projects and organic and sustainable farming practices in New Zealand leading up to February 2021. After that Billy has pencilled in studies and more volunteer assignments in eastern Europe and south-east Asia which should see him through to July 2022.

Such expansive programming will hopefully bring rewards in understanding animal ecology and behaviour alongside the benefits of human intervention in conserving future populations of native animals. Added to this will be practical training in monitoring the effects of disasters, weeds and feral animals on the environment.

“Sustainable food consumption is an area I’d like to make a difference in eventually,” said Billy. “From having fresh venison with my family to making curry with Bruny Island wallaby in Tasmania, I feel so many are missing out on reducing their footprint, consuming healthy, cheap and accessible food.” Billy’s goals are admirable so let’s hope his travel plans come to fruition and the SSAA cash donation helps him along the way.

● The ongoing SSAA Academic Bursary Program is for tertiary students to further the community’s understanding of conservation, hunting, recreational shooting and all related matters. Visit ssaa.org.au/bursary

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