Forestry's biggest advocate

23/04/2020

Sap runs in Acacia Farmery’s veins. 

At just 26, Acacia has already scooped international awards, met with royalty and is sharing her passion to educate New Zealand students about forestry.

The Rayonier Matariki Forests Establishment Forester has become a passionate advocate for the forestry industry and has been recently recognised through a number of international awards.

Acacia was awarded the highly prestigious Prince of Wales Award for Sustainable Forestry late last year for her significant university achievements and ambassadorial roles within the forestry industry. She was one of a small group, including past recipients, invited to a round table with His Royal Highness during his visit to New Zealand last year, to discuss the opportunities and challenges facing the forestry sector.

As well as doing her daily role for Rayonier Matariki Forests Southland region, Acacia travels around  the region educating school students about the forestry industry and promoting it as a career worth considering.

“There are so many great opportunities in the forestry industry and a lot of young people are completely unaware of what is on offer,” says Acacia. 

“It is so important to get into schools and spread the word.  There is so much variety covering so many different facets of forestry that you can always find your place.  But even if students choose not to take up a career in forestry, at least they have learnt about it and understand it a bit better.”

In her final year of school, Acacia was trying to work out what tertiary study she could do that would guarantee a job at the end of it.  She had always been interested in sciences and geography and when she discovered the University of Canterbury Forestry degree had a 94% job success rate at the end of the four years, she turned her sights to that.

“It ticked a lot of boxes so I took a leap of faith and it turned out to be absolutely the right decision and one I wouldn’t change for anything.”

Acacia was hired as a Graduate Forester in 2016 after going through Rayonier Matariki Forests’ student programme which included vacation work and a scholarship.  After 18 months as Technical Forester in the Auckland office she moved to Southland to take up an operational role as Establishment Forester.

“I love that every day is different with half my time spent in the forests liaising with contractors, visiting neighbours and checking tree growth and general environmental conditions of our estates.  The other half I’m in the office creating maps, forecasting and budgeting.”

Acacia’s passion for her job and the industry soon caught the attention of the Future Foresters founders and she was asked to join as a member of the founder group.  Future Foresters, which is a special interest group sitting under the Institute of Forestry, is charged with creating a community for new and young foresters to offer networking, mentorship and professional development opportunities.

While in Auckland Acacia was also an ambassador for Future in Tech, an initiative developed by Ministry for Primary Industries to help promote primary industry careers in schools.   As a part of her role, Acacia regularly visited schools to promote forestry as a career and the forestry industry’s importance to the New Zealand economy, to teachers, career advisers and students.  Since moving to Southland, she has continued this role with Southland Youth Futures.

These roles together with many other company and industry speaking opportunities gained her the prestigious One Rayonier Award last month.  This international award is given to individuals and teams that exemplify Rayonier’s values in their work and Acacia’s unwavering passion and determination to share her love of forestry made her an extremely worthy recipient.

“I love my work but equally I love the people I work with.  There are so many good people in this industry.”