Outdoor adventure leads to new career for Lauren

University of the Sunshine Coast

An Arana Hills swimming teacher and former national-level figure skater is turning her love of outdoor adventure into a career with a Bachelor of Recreation and Outdoor Environmental Studies from USC.

Lauren Tasker, who graduated at a recent ceremony at USC Stadium, has lined up six months of back-to-back freelance outdoor education work across regional Queensland.

And after that, the 22-year-old Ferny Grove State High School graduate intends to study Honours at USC to research the movement of saltwater crocodiles in the Wenlock River on Cape York Peninsula.

“Understanding the territorial movement patterns by home-ranging male crocodiles may help to limit negative human-wildlife conflict,” said Lauren, whose degree electives included Sports Studies, Animal Ecology and Geography.

Her current outdoor education work started at Girraween National Park near Stanthorpe.

“I’m heading every direction northward, working with different organisations, businesses and centres on their ventures facilitating groups on outdoor expeditions,” she said.

“Some of these trips involve base camping or moving on to somewhere new every day – sometimes I’m island-hopping, sometimes following a river and waterfalls. I’ll be guiding groups of people on the Carnarvon Gorge Great Walk and the Wet Tropics Great Walk.

“It will provide me with information on what outdoor education work I enjoy the most.”

Lauren, who does gymnastics, hiking, climbing, swimming and biking, said she chose USC because it was the only university in the state with an outdoor-specific degree and a wide choice of electives.

“Outdoor education has prevalence in a lot of different industries and careers, from school teachers and psychologists to tourism, environmental and geographical research,” she said.

“I liked that I could tailor the degree to my interests and desired direction. I’m interested in a wide range of things, so this degree was able to harness that diversity.

“The teaching staff and their approaches are the best part about USC, and I loved taking the learning outside into real environments so often.”

Lauren collected and analysed real data from Heron Island, K’gari Fraser Island and Conondale National Park, and led groups of peers through Mount Barney National Park portals and Cooloola National Park.

“Longer term, I’ll look at postgraduate study in either secondary education or researching how we as humans recreationally use national parks, the ecological and economic effects, and what we can do both governmentally and socially to improve our recreation and national park conservation understanding and standards.”

Applications are open to study at USC in 2022.

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