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The career opportunities available to our ecology graduates reflect the breadth of training offered. Our graduates are spread far and wide in jobs as diverse as nature guides and resource management consultants to information technologists. Government Departments (DOC, MFE), Crown Research Institutes (NIWA, AgResearch), local and regional councils as well as tourism operations, secondary and tertiary teaching institutions and a range of environmental non-government organisations (NGOs) have all employed our ecology graduates in recent years.


What do our Ecology graduates do?

Our Ecology graduates undertake a wide range of activities in their chosen careers. Skills and responsibilities identified by recent Ecology alumni utilised in their current work include:

  • research
  • fieldwork
  • environmental science
  • education and communication
  • program and project management
  • environmental policy and impact assessment
  • biodiversity, sustainability and natural resource management

Graduate profile

May Ponsonby

May.Ponsonby image 1xGrowing up and working on a sheep and beef farm where the Rangitikei river is carved through the middle, I was never as interested in farming as I was with the river and resources it provided us. I became aware of the role the agricultural industry had on the historical decline of water quality in New Zealand and was driven to make a difference. Bringing with me a unique farming perspective, I sought out an ecological education at University to put myself in a situation where I could promote harmonious relationships between farmers and resource managers. Ensuring positive water quality improvements are made alongside a thriving agricultural industry.

After my first year at Massey University in Palmerston North, I decided to branch further from home and transferred to Otago where I completed a Bachelor of Science majoring in Ecology. Upon graduating, I obtained a full-time role as a Water Quality Field Technician for the West Coast Regional Council. I was fortunate enough to travel the length of the West Coast sampling rivers, lakes, beaches, groundwater, and even air quality, which was a real highlight of the job for me.

After a 12-month stint on the West Coast I decided to return to Otago Uni to complete a Postgraduate Diploma in Ecology. I had the privilege of working with a proactive group of farmers from the Pomahaka catchment, in Otago, who were concerned with the potential for unpaved roads to deposit sediment in nearby waterways. For my thesis, I investigated the mitigation of sediment-laden runoff from unpaved roads and the risk this runoff could present as an unquantified source of sediment in waterways. For me, this type of project was exactly the reason I came to university in the first place. My post-graduate study had provided me with the opportunity to connect my farming background with my acquired knowledge as a freshwater ecologist. It has been the perfect steppingstone for me as I look to seek a career as an environmental consultant for the farming community.

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