About Us

The Future Foresters Intiative Committee is made up of young professionals and forestry students. The purpose of the FFI is to provide support to students and early career  professionals from forestry or related fields, through mentoring, training, networking and other social and professional development activities. 

Meet the Committee

Leon Holt - Chair

Leon is the District and Planning Forester for Community Forestry within VicForests, Victoria’s state-owned native forest timber company. He has previously worked in government with the Department of Environment, Land, Water And Planning, where he completed the DELWP science graduate program and had roles in crown land, statutory planning, forest monitoring and timber harvesting compliance. Leon has completed a Bachelor of Arts and Science, a Postgraduate Diploma of Bushfire Planning and Management, and a Masters of Forest Ecosystems Science at the University of Melbourne, during which his research focused on Mountain Ash silviculture

Patrick McCarthy – Secretary

Patrick works for HVP Plantations in Myrtleford as a part of their graduate program. Currently, he is working in the silviculture department after recently completing an extended stint as a planning forester. He graduated from the University of Melbourne in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Forest Science, having worked in HVP’s planning and forest resources departments in both their Ballarat and Melbourne offices throughout the final year of his studies. Patrick plays football for Beechworth in the Tallangatta and District league and is a firefighter in the HVP Ovens Forest Industry Brigade.

Tegan Brown

Tegan has recently started a PhD in Forest Hydrology at the University of Melbourne, while working part-time for the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning in the Forest Regulation Unit Tegan’s interest in forest management started early, growing up near plantations in central Gippsland and continued through to university - where she studied a  Bachelor of Science with Honours in Fire Ecology, and a Masters of Forest and Ecosystem Science. Tegan worked for DELWP for five years before starting a PhD, across bushfire planning, bushfire recovery and forest management. Tegan joined the FFI Committee to engage with other foresters and to promote the growth of women and young people in the forestry industry

Cleo Riddy

Cleo is a forest policy officer at the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, working across both domestic and international affairs. She has recently returned from 5 months in Bangkok working as part of the UN Food and Agriculture Organizations’ forestry team, to coordinate the Asia-Pacific Forestry Week 2019. She is currently undertaking a Master of Forest Ecosystem Science part-time at the University of Melbourne. Cleo joined the FFI committee in January 2019 to support young people in engaging with professional forestry networks and in pursuing careers in the sector. A keen hiker, rock-climber, runner and mountain-biker, she is also an avid champion of forests in contributing to people’s health, well-being, and happiness.

Vanja Kitanovic

Vanja is currently in her second year of the Master of Forest Ecosystem Science at the University of Melbourne, having previously completed her Bachelor of Science, majoring in Environmental Science, at the same institution. She is particularly interested in catchment management, having completed a research project investigating the effects of environmental flow releases on riparian vegetation in 2018. Vanja is passionate about helping students reach their full potential: she works at the University as a Senior Peer Leader, where she advises students and develops resources related to careers and employability. She’s also on the committee of the Forest Ecosystems Students Society, through which she helps run events and foster opportunities for her classmates in the School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences.

Maddie Shelton

Maddie comes from a background in International Relations and Trade, working as an export manager and trade advisor for a variety of Australian agricultural and retail products. She came across forestry for the first time after accepting a role as a purchaser and shipper for Australian wood products. She has worked in container and bulk exports primarily in Tasmania but also across WA, NSW and the Green Triangle. She decided to pursue this newfound interest by embarking on the Master of Forestry program at ANU in Canberra, where she is now based. Maddie believes that it is important for emerging generations to see the potential of forest products as a renewable and versatile resource as well as acknowledging the ecosystem services provided by trees in the landscape. She hopes that through their support of students and young professionals, the FFI can contribute to improved industry outcomes.

Career Events & Networking

Nobody can underestimate the importance of professional networks for developing your career and advancing ideas or projects in the workplace.

Nobody can underestimate the importance of professional networks for developing your career and advancing ideas or projects in the workplace.

In recognising this, and the challenges that students and early-career professionals often face as new entrants to the workforce, the Future Foresters Initiative will provide platforms for students and early-career foresters to connect with others working across forest-related sectors.

These events will also provide a platform to promote forestry as an exciting and diverse study and career pathway.

  • How we will do this:
  • Career and networking nights;
Establishing mentoring programs together with experienced foresters;