How a young achiever left her mark on a small town
When Melissa Brien arrived in the rural town of Tara in 2003, on Quensland's Western Downs, there wasn't much in the way of an organised approach to environmental management.
Until Melissa arrived to work as a fulltime Landcare coordinator, the responsibility for addressing conservation challenges had been left in the hands of two groups made up of volunteers from the community.
Two weeks ago Melissa, 24, left Tara to return to Grafton, leaving the town in the hands of no less than eight Landcare groups and expecting to receive $350,000 in government funding for environmental work in the shire.
That impressive achievement led the former South Grafton High School student to the podium at a ceremony in Brisbane last Saturday night to accept an award as Queensland Young Achiever of the Year in the Regional Initiative category.
To the delight of her proud parents Terry and Sandra, brother Daniel and friends who made the trip north, Melissa tried to hide her surprise at being named winner.
"It blew me away actually," she said.
"The biggest thing I suppose was that they (Melissa's former Landcare colleagues) really noticed the work I was doing, so being nominated for the award by that group was probably the biggest reward of all."