UOW student Charlie Gluskie stands next to a tree, surrounded by bush. Photo: Paul Jones

Sutherland Shire-based UOW student passionate about saving local environment

Sutherland Shire-based UOW student passionate about saving local environment

Holt Estate Environmental Science Scholarship to help Charlie Gluskie achieve his dreams

Charlie Gluskie’s childhood and adolescence was spent exploring the natural wonders of the Sutherland Shire.

Growing up in Woolooware, Charlie was surrounded by beach and bush, and this backdrop played a formative role in the man he would become.

“I spent so much time outside as a kid, and I still do now. Five minutes from my house is the beach, and everywhere you look there is bush,” Charlie said.

“I guess it was a natural inclination of mine to want to protect the environment that I love so much. The best way for me to do that was to go to uni and advance my understanding of the natural world.”

Now in his second year of a Bachelor of Conservation Biology at the University of Wollongong (UOW), Charlie is on his way to fulfilling his dream. Ideally, he would like to become a research scientist, where he could learn more about his passion: Australian native flora.

“Finishing high school, I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do,” Charlie admits. “I went to TAFE and did a Certificate III in Horticulture. I just loved it, it was exactly what I wanted, because I love plants and botany.

“But it left me wanting more, so I knew I had to go to university and gain that academic understanding of flora and ecology, so I could play a role in protecting these environments.

“I have an insatiable curiosity for the world. When I’m not studying, I’m usually bushwalking, or scratching around the bush looking for flora or small creatures.”

UOW was the easy choice for Charlie, who was drawn to the natural beauty of the Wollongong campus and the degree on offer.

“The biggest drawcard to study at UOW was that the course was specifically conservation biology, because that touches on exactly what I am interested in: learning about how to protect the natural world. UOW is also home to the Centre for Sustainable Ecosystem Solutions, and if I want to continue on the path to becoming a research scientist, having the opportunity to interact with the Centre will be vital.”

After only a year, Charlie knew he had a made the right decision. And while COVID-19 interrupted the field trips that are part of his degree, he has loved being immersed in the dual worlds of conservation and biology.

In 2020, Charlie was the recipient of the annual Holt Estate Environmental Science Scholarship, aimed at first-year students who are studying an environmental science.

UOW student Charlie Gluskie sits in a tree, surrounded by bush. Photo: Paul Jones

When the email popped in to his inbox last year, advising of the scholarship, Charlie said he was intrigued and knew he fit all the criteria needed for the opportunity. Still, he was nervous, particularly when facing the panel who would decide on the winner.

Fittingly, Charlie was out bushwalking when he received the call to let him know he was being awarded the scholarship, which is worth $10,000 per annum for three years.

“I was in the middle of a bushwalk and my phone had been going in and out of reception all day. I walked to the top of a crest and had two bars of reception and my phone rang, telling me I got the scholarship,” he said. “I thought that was pretty fitting.”

Charlie is incredibly grateful for the support of the Holt Estate Environmental Science Scholarship, which will enable him to study and take part in field trips without having to worry about financial pressures.

Sponsored by The Holt Estate 1861, the scholarship is aimed at first-year students enrolled in a degree in environmental science, who also have a connection to the Sutherland Shire.

There are two scholarships available, one for undergraduate students and one for students doing their honours.

“The Holt Estate has long been a supporter of the Sutherland Shire community and with this scholarship we are keen to see a direct way to make a difference in individuals’ lives,” said Duncan McComb, CEO of the Holt Estate 1861.

“We want to make sure that people like Charlie, with his passion for the environment, have every opportunity make a difference.

“It’s great to have now been able to have that impact on four people so far, and we’re looking forward to adding two more in 2021.”

Professor Theo Farrell, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education) at UOW, said the University was delighted to be able to work with partners to provide scholarships opportunities to students.

“Congratulations to Charlie on being awarded this fantastic scholarship, which will enable him to pursue his dreams and make a difference to the worthy and vital cause of protecting the environment.

“We have had the pleasure of partnership with the Holt Estate since 2018 and it’s wonderful to be able to facilitate this scholarship opportunity.

“The University has strong ties to the Sutherland Shire, with many of our students and alumni from the area, and hopefully many more to come in the future.” 

Applications are currently open for the 2021 scholarship.

 For his part, Charlie said the scholarship will enable him to give back to the local Shire community, where his family have lived for three generations.

“I was pretty floored to receive the scholarship. But it will help me to focus wholeheartedly on my studies and take every opportunity available in my degree,” he said.

“I hope that his scholarship will ultimately allow me to have a positive impact on the ecology and environment of the Sutherland Shire.”