You could say Jill Vella is a true custodian of the land

Jill Vella started her interest in land management many years ago and is fortunate to have applied her learning through a range of avenues including her current role as Landcare Network Coordinator, South Gippsland.

Jill is constantly looking for ways to improve soil as an advocate of sustainable farming practice. Her interest in land care started as a young girl. Jill says, "I spent a lot of time in South Gippsland growing up in a large farming family.

"Additionally, I married a farmer, and we’ve made a living from farming a 120 acre property, practising sustainable farming and overseeing our product from paddock to plate and nose to tail as we call it. We use and process every part of our produce either as food, and the remaining parts get used as ingredients within the field of Chinese medicine."

Jill studied Laboratory Testing at Chisholm in 2004 whilst in her role as Laboratory Manager of a Secondary College, which involved working with trainees to put experiments together for science projects. During this time, Jill realized that all her trainees had a qualification and she didn’t, so she thought it was about time she validated her knowledge with a formal qualification, and contacted Chisholm to arrange the start of her vocational training, acquiring a Diploma of Laboratory Techniques in 2004.  

"Chisholm were really helpful and provided flexible study options that enabled me to work part-time and I received a credit for the work I had already undertaken. Getting my Diploma was extremely satisfying, and I realised that I also qualified as an Environmental Tester, which was a bonus.

"There was also the potential to articulate my diploma and go on to further education with a degree course.

"Having the diploma has provided me with validation that I can do the job, and you need a qualification to apply for a lot of jobs these days.

"I’ve used a lot of skills I learned at Chisholm in the microbiological field to ensure everything is well controlled. Microbiology and microbes are integral to growth and farming, of which soil health is such a big part of what we do from a conservation and farming perspective.’

JillAfter Chisholm, Jill embarked on a long relationship with Landcare, initially as a volunteer before being awarded her current position as the Landcare Network Coordinator.

Jill says of being a volunteer, "my studies helped validate my knowledge on projects with Landcare, as I was able to demonstrate I had the practical know how to complete the correct soil tests relating my learnings to that context. The course at Chisholm was very practical and prepared me for working in this field.

"Landcare started off as a tree-planting organisation, and became much more, educating farmers on sustainable farming methods, by reviewing learnings and success stories, then sharing those with the broader farming community."

Jill has the following advice to those wanting to embark on a career in this area:

"There are many avenues to explore in the resource management field such as hands on management of weeds with a Certificate III in Natural Resource Management, to Project Officer roles, delivering on a project scope, through to administration roles where you could be designing the projects, seeking the officers and organising funding required to deliver on those objectives.

"My work with Landcare is the culmination of my life's work, my knowledge, and my education.

"I am fortunate that I get to live my passion every day."