Bree Watson’s recent appointment as Chair of the Queensland Horticulture Council is not only a testament to her dedication to the agricultural industry, but also the foundational skills she acquired while a student at CQUniversity.
The Bachelor of Science (Honours) and Bachelor of Environmental Science alumnus, who is also the CEO of Bundaberg Fruit & Vegetable Growers Limited (BFVG), has spoken of how her background and the degree put her in good stead for this latest challenge.
“Having come from a farming family I was always drawn to agriculture, I feel it's in my DNA,” she said.
“My parents were hard working small business owners and instilled a genuine love of the land in me. I love that agriculture can provide so many careers, from working directly on the land, to the laboratory, to support services that farmers are so reliant upon, and to advocacy, which is what I do now.”
Bree grew up on a small farm in Avondale and has been involved in farming most of her life, working alongside farmers since she commenced with BFVG in 2010.
That background helped her retain the role of BFVG’s CEO for the past seven years – and secure the new role with the Queensland Horticulture Council.
“To be successful in this industry you need a unique combination of academic and practical experience,” she said.
“My degree laid the foundation upon which I honed my practical experience, and I haven't stopped learning since.
“In agriculture our Industry is always changing and the skills I learned at CQU such as research, academic writing and critical thinking have been just as vital to my career development as has the specific project work I completed such as plant identification.
She said she has fond memories of the degree and the Bundaberg campus.
“The Bundaberg campus was so convenient to me and whilst at the time I had to travel to Rockhampton for my res schools, the strong connection that CQU has locally with the farming sector was a real driver for me.
“I loved the range of subjects and the content delivered across the program. The lecturers were incredibly knowledgeable and helpful. I still have some of the textbooks in my office today.
“Prior to finishing my degree, I commenced working locally utilising the skills I had gained and this set me up for the role I currently have. Lately I've had a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with some of the lecturers in my role - it's quite a unique moment to thank them for guiding me on my career path.
“After my degree I completed my honours project which was a great opportunity to work directly with my supervisor on a specific research question. I loved this work and thank CQU and the many people who helped me through the honours process. I'm pleased to report my supervisor at the time is now a colleague whom I work closely with in the industry.”