Shoalhaven student named School-based Trainee of the Year

We might only be half-way into 2020, but Bomaderry High School student Cassandra O’Carroll has just racked up her fourth award win already this year.

Last week, Cassie was named School-Based Apprentice / Trainee (SBAT) of the Year at the Illawarra and South East NSW Training Awards.

It comes just two weeks after she won both the vocational education and training (VET) Student of the Year for her SBAT and the Overall VET Student of the Year for the 2020 Shoalhaven Schools Excellence in VET Awards. She was also named SBAT of the Year in the 2020 HVTC Excellence Awards, announced earlier this year.

Cassie is completing a Certificate II in Conservation and Land Management School-Based Traineeship with HVTC, while hosted to Shoalhaven City Council’s Environmental Services Section for on-the-job training. Her training provider is Kiama Community College.

The 17-year-old now progresses to interviews for the NSW Training awards where, if successful, she will have the opportunity to represent her region at state level.

“I chose to apply for this traineeship because it aligns with the things I am already passionate about. I wanted to expand my knowledge of the local environment and the challenges it currently faces, so that I may protect it the best I can,” she said.

“I’d highly recommend any student do a school-based traineeship. The on-the-job training makes it really enjoyable and you get paid to learn.

“It’s also a great way to meet new people. Since starting my traineeship I have joined the Tapitallee Water and Feed Stations Group who supply me with food, which I then cart out to animals in the bush. I’m also going free diving with seals in the holidays with some of the people I’ve met along the way.”

HVTC CEO Sharon Smith said Cassie is clearly a gifted and motivated student with a bright future ahead of her, but she made a smart decision by applying for a School-Based Traineeship.

“Young people face many challenges when transitioning from school to work, such as a competitive job market and a lack of understanding of what is expected of them in the workplace,” she said.

“School-based apprenticeships and traineeships are a valuable career pathway that allow students to earn a wage, gain practical work experience with an employer and work towards attaining a qualification while completing high school.

“This traineeship has provided Cassie with a range of new skills that she can take with her as she progresses in her career. This experience will also give her a competitive advantage when applying for jobs in the future.”

Throughout her traineeship, Cassie has gained experience across all aspects of Council’s environmental services team, from flora/fauna surveys, weed management, water quality monitoring and educating the community on important issues, such as Flying Fox protection.

Shoalhaven City Council’s Manager of Environmental Services, Kelie Clarke, described Cassie as an exemplary trainee who has been a real asset to the team.

“Cassie is a very conscientious and hard-working trainee who always participates and is willing to take on a challenge - she isn’t just along for the ride,” Ms Clarke said.

In addition to her award wins, Cassie is the High School Captain, Dux of Year 11, a participant in the Duke of Edinburgh and a joint recipient of the Victor Chang Science Award 2019. She was also nominated for the youth category in both the Globe Green Awards 2019 and the Shoalhaven International Women’s Day Awards 2020.

Cassie is also actively involved in the community, from volunteering with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service to creating a ‘Sustainable Schools Competition’ where Shoalhaven schools compete against each other for prize money by undertaking eco-friendly initiatives. During the recent bushfire season, in which Cassie’s family was greatly impacted, she was able to apply practical knowledge she had acquired through her training to help injured and starving wildlife.

When she finishes school, Cassie is planning to study a Bachelor of Environmental Science and Conservation Biology at the University of Wollongong.

Portrait of young woman with brown hair with trees blurred in background