The Australian agricultural industry enjoys as reputation as one of the most productive, efficient and sustainable in the world, and thanks to young professionals such as Hayley Greenham, it’s an industry bound to evolve and prosper well into the future.
Renowned as one of the nation’s leading powerhouses of production, Hayley’s decision to return to her hometown of Moree to pursue a career in environmental science, was an easy one.
“There is such a wealth of opportunity for young professionals in the environmental and resource sectors, particularly in rural regions, and ensuring a sustainable future for agriculture is something I’m really interested in.”
A 2008 graduate of the Moree Secondary College, Hayley credits her local education for giving her the confidence to explore a number of career avenues, and fleshing out what was really important to her.
“During my years at MSC one teacher in particular, Miss Bugden, was extremely inspirational.”
“She was both my Advanced English teacher and Drama teacher and made such an effort with the students - you could tell she wanted us to succeed.
“Throughout Year 12 she made herself available most weekends to help us prepare for our group project, which involved a short performance, and her commitment inspired us all to try that little bit harder.”
Even as an adult, it seems this subconscious habit to ‘try a little bit harder’, has stuck.
A gap year in Moree after school afforded Hayley to opportunity to work at a local real estate agency as a property manager.
“I really enjoyed the advertising and marketing elements involved with real estate and this encouraged me to pursue a business degree at Griffith University in Brisbane.
Once at university, Hayley’s world opened even wider thanks to the myriad of opportunities on offer.
“I took a number of different classes focusing on sustainable enterprises and became more interested in businesses that aim to achieve a triple bottom line - People, Planet, Profit.
“This lead me to undertake a complementary degree in environmental science.”
Following her instincts and her genuine interests, it seems this fateful path she found herself on was, evidently, the right one.
Research undertaken whilst at Griffith University cumulated in her receiving two awards from Soil Science Australia in 2015 - Best Undergraduate Student and Best Communication.
Upon completion of a Bachelor of Science (Environment) and a Bachelor of Business (Marketing and Sustainable Enterprise).
Hayley returned to Moree, buoyed by the opportunities her new skills could bring to her hometown.
Working for SMK Consultants as a professional Environment and Resource Consultant, she now provides advice to developers and farmers across the region.
“It’s an exciting time to be in the industry, there have been so many developments in the agricultural sector surrounding water use efficiency, Irrigation, soil health and productivity and digital agriculture, and where else to better capitalise on this than as a young professional here in Moree.”
“Working on infrastructure projects, particularly the Inland Rail, is also a real buzz – it’s one of the most significant nation building projects of our time and as a young professional you really couldn’t ask for a better learning opportunity.”
Other aspects of her role include flora and fauna assessments, noise and dust assessments and archaeological studies, and Hayley believes the best part of her job ‘is that no project or site is ever the same.’
“I’m so grateful that having been to school here, I have a great network of friends and professional contacts - Moree is one of the epicentres when it comes to soil health and sustainable agriculture.”
Happy in her current role, Hayley’s leisure time is spent travelling Australia and the world, however her thirst for knowledge may not yet be quenched.
“Eventually I would like to pursue a Masters in Environmental Science (Land and Water) and develop a specialisation in soil science, a topic I find fascinating.”
“An often overlooked component of soil fertility involves microbial activity and the diversity of bacterial species - one cup of soil may hold seven billion bacteria – the equivalent of our world’s human population.”
“This is the part about soil science that I find fascinating, the potential for microorganisms to enhance nutrient uptake by plants, improving drought resistance and controlling the spread of disease.”
“Maintaining and improving soil fertility is of particular importance in the face of global climate change and a growing demand for food production due to an ever-expanding population.”
And it’s thanks to this passion and drive from young professionals such as Hayley Greenham, that rural Australia can be rest assured its agricultural future is in safe hands.