Toi Ohomai Perfect Foundation for Career

Nicole Banks is living her dream after studying at Toi Ohomai

Nicole Banks has moulded a career from her passion for waste reduction.

In 2012, she graduated from the then Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, which merged with Waiariki Institute of Technology in 2016, with a Diploma in Environmental Management.

Her plan was initially to do the Institution’s three-year pathway, earning both the diploma and the University of Waikato’s Bachelor of Science. But she was offered a job she couldn’t refuse just as she was finishing her diploma.

Nicole says during the second year of the course she completed a research project on backyard composting. She says the project led to her first job at Zero Waste Education where she taught children about recycling in schools and delivered workshops on worm farming, providing information on the issue to the community.

She says she chose the course because of the variety of papers covered and the amount of outdoor learning opportunities it offered.

"The programme’s ability to have a science, cultural and practical side was fantastic. The part I enjoyed most was the opportunity to be outdoors on the field trips that we took."

"The navigational skills that I learned opened up a lot of possibilities in the outdoors. I also very much enjoyed learning about biosecurity and the threats that could enter New Zealand through overseas visitors and imports. The freshwater papers were also very informative about issues in New Zealand, which are relevant to my previous job teaching kids about what was happening to the local rivers and sea."

She says her first year waste management paper has proved the most beneficial in her first job, but the computer, report writing, and oral presentation skills she picked up during the course have also proven vital. 

"The staff were great! Always willing to go the extra mile to help students to pass and ensure that they understand the topics being taught. Bringing in practical field trips to all of the papers really helps to reinforce understanding of the topics."

Now, she works as a Waste Education Programme Manager at Tauranga City Council and her education at Toi Ohomai is continuing to benefit her. The role requires her to manage education programmes on waste management and coordinate community workshops.

Nicole says she enjoys the job and has big plans for the future.

“I hope to see more programmes delivered in our community with the help of Council and maybe later be community led. 
“I am also really excited to be involved in the kerbside rubbish and recycling project. At the moment Tauranga doesn’t have a Council led kerbside recycling service, but we are hoping that will all change soon to make it easier for the community to recycle.” 

She says future students should take advantage of all the resources the Institution has to offer.

"The tutors have a huge amount of knowledge, so always ask questions. It’s an awesome programme which builds a large variety of skills in preparation for work after study. Don’t hold back, get out of your comfort zone!"


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