Marie’s Journey of Passion and Sustainability

Marie Egan was one of our guest speakers as part of this term’s Sisterhood Series. A College parent and alumna (1988), Marie is a professional in horticulture, viticulture, and hydrogeology. She completed her Bachelor of Science with honours in Horticulture and Viticulture at the University of Western Australia in 2003. In 2018, Marie earned a Master of Hydrogeology from UWA, specialising in groundwater systems and sustainable water management. With 27 years in the turf industry, she has extensive experience working in private schools, golf courses, and turf maintenance contracts.

She is passionate about managed aquifer recharge and helping local governments with irrigation water solutions and environmental sustainability.

What inspired you to pursue a career in horticulture and viticulture initially?

This was purely by accident! I had two failed attempts at university in the four years after school. There was a unit that had some botany in it, which sparked my interest. So, I planned to go to TAFE, but the turf management course I wanted to do was full! So, then I found an apprenticeship with the help of the TAFE teachers. After a few years, I could see the environmental impact and the resource-heavy nature of high-quality turf. I wanted to be part of reducing the industry’s environmental footprint, so I gave the university another go. UWA had a turf research program, and I wanted to be a part of it.

Can you share a memorable experience from your time working in the turf industry?

In my early career days, the most memorable experiences were the big events that showcased the facility I was working at, showing it at its best—things like school athletics carnivals and Opening Days at the golf club. Supporting our client in the growing-in and laying of the turf surface at Optus Stadium was another highlight. In more recent years, it has been project management of hydrogeological requirements for a new development and securing the development’s water needs while ensuring we leave enough water for the environment.

What motivated you to further your education with a Master of Hydrogeology after many years in the turf industry?

In short, state government regulations. The bulk of our clients are local governments. We help them maintain their parks and playing fields, part of which is irrigation. In the 2000s, regulations changed, and our clients asked us to help them manage those changes. My two managers were busy with the agronomy aspects of the business and so passed the water work to me. After a number of years of writing reports and sending them to a ‘suitably qualified professional’ to sign off on, I decided that I’d become that suitably qualified professional myself.

How do you balance the technical aspects of your work with the environmental sustainability goals you’re passionate about?

Sometimes this is really hard. It is a real balance, and I often find the solution requires compromises on both aspects. We absolutely need to leave enough water for the environment – for our wetlands, our vegetation, our river systems. We also need to acknowledge that the green aspect of our local public open space is imperative to the mental health of the community. Sport, both local and elite, is such a crucial part of the Australian psyche, that turf playing surfaces are an essential part of our lives. We have just had the longest and driest irrigation season on record, and many of my clients used all the groundwater they were legally permitted to abstract. I have had to advise them that, with the exception of providing safe playing surfaces to the community, they should switch all irrigation systems off. As a greenkeeper and member of the community, I want to see my local parks green. As an ambassador for our groundwater resources and future generations, I need to see them brown.

Marie speaking to students at the Sisterhood Series

Do you have any favourite memories of your time as a student at the College?

High school was a tough period of my life, and our 1988 group is certainly bonded in trauma. What got me through were the friendships I formed. They were my day-to-day saviours back then. My contact with those friends is now sporadic, and it could be years between catch-ups, but we pick up exactly where we left off. And when you endure tough times with others, those will always be your people.

What advice would you give to students who are unsure about their career path post-school?

Follow your nose and give things a go. Doors will open along the way, and you can choose to step through that door, or you can choose the next one. I really advocate for not doing something just because it’s what you feel you should do, or because it is expected of you. Don’t fulfil the dreams someone else has for you; fulfil your own.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of your career so far?

My family. They are my career. They will last my lifetime. The work I get paid for and am lucky to enjoy is an added bonus. (And that’s coming from someone who didn’t have ‘family’ on their to-do list!) But workwise, being part of improving the sustainability of the turf industry.

How do you like to unwind and spend your downtime?

I treasure snippets of time with my family, especially with two teenagers who have their own lives. I also love being at the beach, either to run the dog or surf, and I love getting away from the city to do some serious introverting in nature with a book as often as I can.

Marie’s dedication to environmental sustainability and her ability to balance technical expertise with ecological responsibility serve as an inspiration to all. Marie’s story encourages us to follow our own paths, embrace the unexpected, and make a positive impact on the world around us.

the Winter Appeal and Outreach Mass at Santa Maria College.

Term 2 – Empowering Students and Community – Jennifer Oaten

As we conclude another remarkable term at Santa Maria College, we celebrate the myriad achievements and growth of our students. Term 2 was filled with empowering opportunities, from faith-based activities and learning innovations to social awareness projects and community engagements, embodying our Mercy values and commitment to excellence.

Read More »
Scroll to Top