19 January 2024

Passion planted the seed for Jeff's bush business venture

| Katrina Condie
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Man in bush

Jeff Harbrow has launched an environmental business aimed at educating the next generation about the importance of sustainability. Photo: TAFENSW.

A South Coast dad has turned his passion for environmental protection into a flourishing business.

Culburra resident, Jeff Harbrow, was studying a Bachelor of Creative Arts at university when he volunteered as a bush regenerator at Killalea Reserve at Shell Cove.

The experience stirred something deep within him and sparked a professional and personal journey that would change the course of his life.

He enrolled in a Certificate III in Conservation and Ecosystem at TAFE NSW Yallah to gain the practical skills and experience to forge a career in conservation.

In 2020, after completing a two-year traineeship, Jeff opened Whipbird Environmental, a bush regeneration, micro nursery, and environmental education business.

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“I was always interested in business and liked the idea of having a job where I could have flexibility to fit in with my young family and make a real difference,” he said.

“It’s such a satisfying job to contribute to see a system spring back to life, with new species popping up.”

Whipbird Environmental focuses primarily on Australian native plants, helping landholders rehabilitate their land, and Jeff also conducts tours and bush regeneration clinics with school students.

“They may want to restore creek lines or build a habitat for birds,” he said.

He works with private landholders, community groups and local governments to help with the restoration of the natural areas of the Illawarra, Shoalhaven and Southern Highlands through plant supply, consultation, environmental education and boots-on-the-ground bush regeneration and garden work.

Jeff’s passion lies in the restoration of our natural areas and the integration of our lives with the natural world.

He recently recruited a trainee bush regenerator who is studying through TAFE Digital.

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Jeff said the hands-on skills and contextualised learning at TAFE NSW had contributed to the growing success of his business.

“The teachers I had at TAFE NSW were all very passionate and knowledgeable,” he said.

“Every student had their own nature site, some on the actual campus, where they could practically complete assignments.”

TAFE NSW Yallah conservation teacher Marcus Burgess said the job prospects for TAFE NSW conservation graduates were stronger than ever, with 188 conservation jobs currently unfilled on employment website Seek.

“It really is an exciting time to enter the industry, especially with the growing awareness around global warming and climate change,” he said.

He said the industry offered a range of potential roles for TAFE NSW graduates, including ranger, bush regenerator, forestry worker, biodiversity officer, catchment officer and Landcare coordinator. Local councils and mining companies were increasingly recruiting conservation professionals.

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