Little did she know that helping her parents in the garden was the first step in her journey to her dream career, as she says, “in the mud”.
“I’m not a girly girl and I decided that a career working outdoors was what I wanted when I was 11 years old after getting immense satisfaction from helping my mum and dad out in the garden,” says Tahlia.
“During an education expo at high school my eyes were opened to the career opportunities in horticulture — the kinds of jobs and places I could work were exactly what I was seeking. So, after discussing it with my family, I began studying towards the job of my dreams,” she says.
With her career goals firmly set, Tahlia armed herself with certificates in landscaping and horticulture from TAFE Queensland while still in school, on her way to towards the apprenticeship of her dreams.
“During high school I learnt about landscaping, paving, planting and drawing plans, which set me up for specialising down the track,” continues Tahlia.
After finishing school, Tahlia enrolled to study the Certificate III in Sports Turf Management (AHC31316) where she learnt how to use the specialised machinery and equipment to manage golf greens and cricket pitches.
“I gravitated towards turf management because I enjoyed using the machinery and learning about all the different grass breeds used for playing surfaces, as well as the techniques used to keep it fit for purpose,” continues Tahlia.
Helping Tahlia along her study journey was her industry-experienced teachers, providing her with insights into what to expect out in the field and the skills she’d need to get a job.
“Between the class discussions and the hands-on learning in the outdoor facilities, I learnt all the fundamental skills I needed to get a job,” explains Tahlia.
An opportunity to put her skills into practice presented itself when she applied for an apprentice greenkeeper job with the Wynnum Golf Club, setting her on the course towards a career as a greenkeeper.
“I felt so confident when I applied because TAFE Queensland had given me the skills they were seeking. And when I combined my skills with the enthusiasm and passion I have for this industry, I confidently attended the interview," she said.
“The meeting went well and I was offered the job on the spot — my family and I were so happy!” says Thalia.
Head Greenkeeper at Wynnum Golf Club, Jason Adams, who is a TAFE Queensland graduate himself, says Tahlia is an asset to the team and plays a vital role in helping to manage the course.
“Tahlia's greenkeeping confidence and ability have grown enormously with us, because she’s put the skills she learnt at TAFE Queensland into practice, while also learning further skills specific to the golf course,” says Jason.
“She works in a team of six and we maintain every aspect of the golf course — from mowing greens each day, tees three times a week and fairways twice a week, as well as all the other maintenance our course requires — so there is plenty of work that constantly needs doing.”
Since joining Wynnum in 1986, Jason has made his way up the ranks to his current position of Head Greenkeeper, and has employed eight other TAFE Queensland apprentices over the years.
"When recruiting, we look favourably at those who have studied at TAFE Queensland, as they come to us with some knowledge of the trade and the practical skills to hit the ground running — and Tahlia is no different.”
As a testament to her passion, enthusiasm and skills, Jason nominated Tahlia for the 2019 Turf Graduate of the Year during her apprenticeship, where she finished in the top three.
Despite the early morning starts, relentless heat in summer, insects and wildlife encounters, Tahlia wouldn’t have it any other way.
"TAFE Queensland allowed me to further my skills in an area that I am so passionate about and I’m now working in a job I love," she said.
“Each day, I’m working with a great bunch of people to keep our fairways, roughs and greens manicured so our members have a challenging but enjoyable round of golf."
“It’s always a great feeling when members compliment us on how good the course is looking and how well it’s playing,” says Tahlia.