Sheryl Vickery

Harvesting forester, roading manager

Sheryl manages crews contracted to harvest timber and build roads for a Mount Gambier-based forest management company.

Essentially, she oversees the flow of wood from the forest to the port – from log making and timber identification to weighbridge and despatch.

I began my forestry career working as a mill hand in a local timber mill. I progressed to team leader and then supervisor but decided the mill wasn't where I really wanted to be.

So, in 2006, I began studying for a Bachelor of Forest Science and Management through Southern Cross University at Mount Gambier. It took me six years part-time while I continued to work full-time and care for two children and a husband.

A year into my study, I got a job as a technical assistant with a local forest management company, Auspine, and they supported me through my degree. I moved to Timberlands in 2012 as harvesting manager.

I spend about half my time in the office, tracking wood flows and preparing harvest plans, which includes covering off safety issues and ensuring our activities don't cause damage to the environment or endangered trees, plants and animals.

The rest of the time I get to be in the forest, talking with the contractors, walking through the cut-overs (felled forest) and checking the quality of our logs. I've got a chainsaw licence but I don't get to use one very often.

I've learned that my life experiences helped me greatly when I became a mature student. I was probably a bit naughty in my teens and because I didn't enjoy school, I really didn't apply myself. I found it easier to study later because I chose the subject.

My smartest move was deciding to take that jump and study for a forestry degree. My family life has benefited greatly from me enjoying my work so much.

My advice is … if you enjoy the outdoors and mixing with lots of different personalities, consider forestry. There are lots of jobs for women where you can be outside most of the time, like working in health and safety, planting, chemical and fertiliser application, mapping, or the nursery.

Quote: "Our industry is in a really good position at the moment, particularly with the emergence of new technologies that use forest residue in the production of biofuels, electricity and pellets for heating."

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