THE start of a new school year brings many possibilities for students and, for Weipa local Kyah Campigli, January 2020 marked the beginning of an exciting opportunity: a Rio Tinto school-based traineeship with the miner’s environmental team.
It is a traineeship that continues to inspire her today in her studies at James Cook University.
Kyah began her traineeship working one day a week on site at Weipa and two years later graduated with a Certificate II Conservation and Land Management, as well as a Queensland Certificate of Education.
As a top-performing school-based trainee, Kyah was also nominated for the 2020 Queensland Training Awards, where she was a finalist in the school-based trainee or apprentice of the year award.
Through her traineeship, Kyah’s work on palm cockatoo threatened species research saw her develop a field guide for team members and deliver a project to increase community awareness of the palm cockatoo, all while collecting valuable habitat data for the Weipa team.
The traineeship gave Kyah the hands-on experience she needed to learn which field of environmental studies she wanted to specialise in, and in 2021 she started a Bachelor of Science majoring in Ecology at JCU in Cairns.
Kyah said the experience had been positive and plenty of support was available.
“Even though it can be a little overwhelming moving away from family and friends to an unknown place, there are so many great opportunities and support systems available,” she said.
“You will meet heaps of new people that are in the same situation to you and will help you get through it while you also help them.”
Kyah also received support from the Rio Tinto Weipa University Scholarships Program, which encourages local students to pursue tertiary pathways in mining-related and skill-shortage areas. In this program, students undertake paid work experience throughout their studies.
This is Kyah’s final year of study and she hopes to return to Weipa at the end of the year.
“I’m thinking of applying for the Rio Tinto graduate program. I would like to go into conservation and help protect and look after animals,” she said
Her advice to high school students: “Give it your best shot because even though at times it can be hard, there is a great support network the entire time, from the teachers at Western Cape College to everyone I’ve worked with at Rio Tinto.”