Eleventh-hour donation from Hall Contracting enables high-distinction USC students to join service expedition to Fiji
Thanks to a last-minute save by a local business, two high-distinction students at The University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) will be packing their bags for a highly anticipated, intensive international service project in Fiji – instead of being forced to withdraw from the expedition.
Sunshine Coast-based Hall Contracting, an award-winning dredging, civil contracting and marine civil company, today announced a $4,000 donation that will ensure all of the students in Dr Gayle Mayes’ International Field Study course can make the service-centred trip to Fiji, set to commence in two weeks’ time.
The two University students, Emma Barton and Jessika Ayres, urgently sought financial support for the expedition, which will support local villages in developing tourism programs. As the primary coordinators of the expedition’s main projects, and students of high distinction, the absence of Emma and Jessika would have struck a major blow to the initiative from both a leadership and labour-force standpoint.
As the clock ticked down to the expedition’s imminent departure, Hall Contracting’s leadership learned of the students’ predicament, and quickly acted to ensure that the two student leaders would be able to attend.
“Our two students were on the verge of withdrawing from the expedition because of last-minute funding issues, and it’s been very stressful for them,” said Dr Mayes, business lecturer, USC. “Now, thanks to the generosity of Hall Contracting, the entire group will be able to travel for this incredible, life-changing experience.”
“We are thrilled to be able to support such deserving and high-achieving students as they pursue their career dreams,” said Cameron Hall, managing director of Hall Contracting. “Their dedication to helping our island neighbours advance tourism on a community level is admirable, and we hope many will reap the benefits of their actions.”
“Without the expertise of Emma and Jessika, our expedition would have lost leadership, capacity, impact and significance,” added Dr Mayes. “Words cannot convey the depth of our gratitude for this donation.”
Hall Contracting has a history of commitment to projects that benefit the Fijian people.
The company recently successfully carried out a complex dredging project on behalf of the Fijian government. Focused on the deepening and widening of a channel near Port Denarau, the project involved dredging a 2km-long channel to a depth of -5m lowest astronomical tide. Hall’s team dredged 500,000m3 and transported the material to an onshore reclamation area over a period of five months.
Additionally, in 2010 the company provided financial support to a USC student who sought to undertake climate-centric research in Fiji. Student Amy Lalonde spent three weeks in Fiji examining coastal zone management and climate change. Her work resulted in the recommendation that the nation establish a body to better manage water and land uses in the flood-prone and degraded Suva Lagoon catchment.
Ms Lalonde received a $4,000 bursary from Hall Contracting to conduct her study. She has since continued on to earn her PhD through the University.
“We at Hall Contracting feel strongly about supporting projects that benefit our neighbours in the Fijian region, from University research to the river-dredging work we’ve undertaken to ensure infrastructure corridors remain optimal,” noted Mr Hall.
Dr Mayes’ International Field Study course, administered out of the business school at USC, is designed for students who wish to undertake service projects in neighbouring Pacific Rim nations. The course is running for the first time this year in a new, three-week intensive format. Dr Mayes’ group of 13 students will spend three weeks in Fiji, starting on 23rd June.
The interdisciplinary course helmed by Dr Mayes is designed to expose students to various international cultures and environments to help advance their career pathways.
The pilot group of 13 USC students will spend the first week with staff and students of the University of the South Pacific, learning about Fijian and Pacific culture. They will then travel to Natalei ra Village, a traditional Fijian community, which offers students hands-on experience in sustainable coastal and marine development, conservation and tourism.
The students’ projects will include:
- Developing a new sport and cultural festival, with hopes for future growth into an annual tourism draw for the region;
- Undertaking a series of transects across Moon Reef, a spectacular area where dolphins swim, to gauge the reef’s health and establish baseline data;
- Developing several snorkel trails for tourists on the nearby coral reefs; and
- Developing a strategic social media promotional program for the Natalei ra Village.
USC students have been undertaking expeditions to Fiji with Dr Mayes since 2007. This is the second year students have been travelling to the region of Dawasamu to participate in community-based tourism service projects.
To learn more about Hall Contracting, visit their website at www.hallcontracting.com.au.