High Achievers – Wayne Flint Parks and Reserves Co-ordinator, Waratah-Wynyard Council
Waratah-Wynyard Council on Tasmania’s northwest coast has made the decision to recruit two trainees onto the Parks and Reserves team after many years of not having trainees on its workforce.
Instrumental in this change of direction is Parks and Reserves coordinator, Wayne Flint, nominated as an LG Focus high achiever by former councillor Alwyn Friedersdorff.
Flint recalls his own early years and is grateful for the start he was given, now hoping to pass on to others something of the pleasure and pride that comes from developing good skills and using them well.
“I joined the council straight from school in 1992; I undertook a four year apprenticeship and was blessed to have a wonderful horticulturist as my tutor.
“I can’t say I ever set out to work for a council, but this council certainly gave me a great start in my working life.”
As a trainee, Flint learned variety of experience was a valuable tool that would open up opportunities.
“I remember back then my supervisor would go out of his way for us to experience all aspects of our trade.
“We once transplanted a mature tree with backhoes and cranes just, so we could experience the job, the tree wasn’t especially valuable, but it still lives to this day!”
The decision to take on trainees was for Flint an investment in the future.
“Whilst we strive to give these young employees the best traineeship we can, we certainly don’t view them as cheap labour,” he said.
“We are aiming to produce horticulturists with a broad range of knowledge and as future leaders, they can continue the cycle in years to come.
“With this in mind, Council has funded the re-establishment of our plant nursery that once produced 90 percent of our plant, turf and advanced tree requirements, which over time had fizzled out due to competition from other nurseries within our area.
“While the trainees won’t supply all our plant requirements, the aim is to invest in these individuals and give them a solid grounding in plant identification and propagation, as well as the basic in ‘the field’ experiences.”
Flint has lived all his life in the area and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
“I enjoy the closeness of the community, being able to say hello to everyone you meet in the street, and the sense of pride the nine members of our parks team have in keeping the towns’ parks and gardens to the standard we do.”
In October Wynyard hosts the annual Tulip Festival, which attracts around 20,000 visitors to the town, celebrating the local tulip bulb industry as well as all things spring.
This gives Flint’s team a great chance to show off their wonderful parks and reserves.
Mindless vandalism is the major frustration for Council and the townspeople.
“It can be heartbreaking to see projects destroyed after so much effort goes into them.”
In the 1990s a foray into the world of private enterprise allowed him to develop skills in production horticulture to augment a grounding in amenity horticulture.
In an era when college training was undertaken outside of work hours, Flint obtained qualifications in Horticulture Technology and Diplomas in Horticulture and Agriculture.
Ten years later he moved into selling rural merchandise with the local Elders store.
As time went on the store become unviable and closed.
“I transferred to the next store along the coast which was about a 60 minute drive away.
“While this may appear to be just a job, this position helped me immensely with honing my customer service skills, an area I had never really ventured into.”
During this time Flint always kept an eye on the coveted Parks and Gardens coordinator position at Council.
“I finally got my chance in September 2012.”
Flint looks back to the day in 1992 when the council engineer told him that if he wanted to go any further with the council he needed to go away and get some more experience.
“I did leave soon after, grumbling something about what would he know.
“However, 20 years later when I was rewarded with my old supervisors’ position, I knew that the advice I was given so many years ago was probably the best advice I could ever have received.
“I now had a broad experience base to draw on and a skill set that would be of use to the council.”
Flint is happy to continue in the role he has, to help foster those who want to make their mark on the field of horticulture and more importantly on the little town in which he lives.