by Teagan Alexander
Teagan writes about what she has been doing since winning the scholarship in 2016. Her work from Katherine Research Station to Bee Biosecurity Officer to Assistant Grower for one of the NT’s largest melon farms has kept her busy.
Hello everyone! It has been many years since I had the pleasure of meeting you all in Melbourne and so much has changed since then too. When all the things I did were read out at the meet and greet that night, I had a moment of “Oh my goodness! I do too much!” and that was even with one of the things left off that list. When I returned to Katherine after that trip, I resolved to step back a little. Apart from two things from the list, it basically took me moving to South Australia in late December 2017 for that to happen.
Things at the Katherine Research Station had slowed down to a point that watching grass grow was the only thing we had happening and I mean that quite literally. Many of my colleagues were leaving for various reasons and I’d had a deep calling to head back to SA. So, I applied for numerous positions and was successful at becoming the Bee Biosecurity Officer for Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA), the South Australian equivalent of Ag Victoria.
Being the Bee Biosecurity Officer was a fascinating job. It operated partly under the National Bee Biosecurity Program run by Plant Health Australia and mostly under the Apiaries Biosecurity division of PIRSA. It was part extension (lots of fun) and part compliance (definitely not so fun). There were many aspects that I enjoyed about the role with two highlights being working with beekeepers (either one-on-one if they had a problem or doing presentations, workshops or field days) and being able to see much of South Australia. Pretty much wherever bees were, I would travel.
It was a hard decision to leave the role. Leaving behind my beekeepers was my biggest dilemma: I felt like I was letting them down. However, I returned to horticulture by becoming the Assistant Grower for one of the NT’s largest melon farms, starting the role in July 2020.
On the farm, we mostly grow watermelons though we have a number of hectares of pumpkins just for good measure. Being in the role has allowed me to expand my skills even further and put the ones I had gained through either working on the research station or completing my Certificate III in Horticulture to use.
Since having returned to NT, I’ve re-joined the Country Women’s Association (as an ordinary member) and joined my local bushfire brigade (as a Treasurer). The law degree fell by the wayside during my time in SA.
Though I miss the beekeepers of SA, I am not without bees. We have two hives on the melon farm with plans to expand the apiary significantly further. There’s also great satisfaction in seeing the teams pick melons that you’ve grown and be loaded onto countless trucks to be exported to various markets across the country. (June 2021)