RUSSELL Island resident Jake McCosker is south-east Queensland's Equity VET Student of the Year.
Mr McCosker received the Queensland Training Award for his achievements while working towards a Certificate I in Conservation and Land Management.
The award is presented to a person who has overcome a significant barrier or disadvantage to effectively take part in vocational education and training.
Mr McCosker did work experience with the island-based organisation Running Wild Youth Conservation Culture while studying his certificate.
He has since taken up a full time apprenticeship with Australian Environmental Landscapes.
Before starting with Running Wild, Mr McCosker had struggled to find a job on Russell Island.
He credits his turn around to the organisation's founder Julie 'Chook' Larson.
"When I first moved to Russell Island I didn't have many friends," he said.
"I didn't have much confidence about work. I didn't have much to do and was on Centrelink for a while.
"Then Chook's program popped up so I signed up for it and that gave me a passion to do conservation and land management as a career.
"I have a lot more confidence now then I did when I started."
Mr McCosker helped with community projects while with Running Wild.
He also obtained his driver's licence and a car under Ms Larson's mentorship.
He said the work he did at Running Wild contributed to his award nomination.
"We revamped the gardens at the community hall on Macleay Island, built a new footpath at the boat club and built a retaining wall at the art's centre," Mr McCosker said.
"I think that if I'd never met Chook I'd still be sitting around doing nothing."
Redlands MP Kim Richards said Mr McCosker was an example of how the Skilling Queenslanders for Work scheme was creating career pathways.
"It was brilliant to see our very own SMBI local Jake McCosker, a graduate of SQW with Running Wild Youth Conservation on Macleay Island, take out the SEQ Equity VET Student of the Year," she said.
"Jake has a fabulous career ahead of him underpinned by the skills he acquired in conservation management."
Mr McCosker and the other regional award winners are now eligible for a state final award.
"All of our high calibre regional winners represent a wide range of industries and occupations, from mechanics, electricians, small bakeries and hairdressing salons, to migrant support organisations and big businesses," Ms Richards said.
"Being selected as a regional winner recognises their outstanding contribution to the state's growth and economy and they should be proud of their achievements so far."
The Queensland Training Awards state final will be held in Brisbane on September 14.
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