Global pandemics do not often present exciting opportunities, but the four recipients of IECA Australasia’s Young Professional Virtual Conference Scholarship had the opportunity to attend IECA’s 2021 Virtual Conference, which had originally been planned as an in-person event in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.
The switch to a virtual conference eliminated extra time and costs for travel and accommodations, opening up the conference to a wider audience. To encourage young professionals embarking on a career in the erosion and sediment control industry, the Australasia Chapter offered scholarships that included full conference registration, a 12-month IECA Australasia membership, and an invitation to attend one IECA Australasia Board meeting virtually or in person. The scholarship program, which was sponsored by Vital Chemical, was open to professionals under the age of 35 in Australia and New Zealand. Four recipients were selected from the 11 applications received.
The recipients’ perspectives on the conference included:
Rebecca O’Connor, environmental coordinator, AWP2, Victoria: “Despite the virtual nature of the conference, it was a great opportunity to see what other companies from around the world are doing to achieve our goals of best practice in the world of erosion and sediment control. Whilst a lot of the international round table discussions were more American-oriented, as an Australian, I found it was indirectly a great way to demonstrate how best practice in one country might not necessarily be best practice in another.”
Venkata Padamata, land resource officer, Rangelands Division, Department of Environment, Parks and Water Security, NT Government: “It was worth it waking up early in the morning and attending the conference. Unfortunately, I attended only the first day of the conference due to my work priorities, but I had access to all seminars for 60 days after the conference via the website. The great thing about these presentations is that they included plenty of discussion and audience involvement. I personally learned a lot and got inspired to learn more.”
Igmar Zambrano, environment officer, Engineering, Health and Environment Branch, Planning and Regulatory Services Department, Ipswich City Council: She lists highlights of the conference as “Sharing sediment control techniques. Sharing knowledge and experience in panel discussions and presentations. Increasing information in new techniques related to erosion and sediment control measures in road construction, development project, creek restoration, implementation, and monitoring of sediment control.”
Chloe Leong: “The conference was great for expanding my knowledge on a wide range of subjects and there were many amazing and knowledgeable speakers. I had the opportunity to grow my professional support network and understand amazing products that are available on the market. This experience has given me an appreciation of the work undertaken by others involved in the field and the direction the industry is heading.”