Honouring a retiring OneFortyOne icon
Friday 23 Jul 2021
Terry described the naming of the road in the plantations where his family had lived and worked for decades as ‘a real honour’. “My family are quite taken by it, after all our history here and we’re looking forward to getting out there and getting a photo with the sign,” he said.
The location of the plantation track holds special significance to the Higgins family as it is situated near the forest reserve Muddy Flats, where the family lived for several years after emigrating from London in the mid-1960s. Following in the footsteps of his father John, who worked for the department in the forests around Penola and Nangwarry, Terry also began working in his school holidays, clearing firebreaks and hand weeding in the nursery.
During his 43-year career, Terry performed nearly every role imaginable, working his way up from maintenance to machinery operator to geographic information services work and then supervisory roles. “From hanging around so long, you get to know it all, from handplanting to machinery to hand marking. You name it, I’ve done it,” he said.
In 2016, he was made the Area Foresters and District Manager for the Penola forests – the pinnacle of his career and what he referred to as his ‘spiritual home’. Terry found his forte in silviculture, saying he found creativity and satisfaction in seeing the growth and development of the plantations. “It’s about creating a forest that can be the best it can possibly be in 32-years’ time,” he said. “To see a tree in the ground as a seedling and then watch it grow to its full potential is very satisfying.”
Being able to spend time in the peace and quiet of the forest environment is something Terry will always value as his favourite part of the job and an experience he enjoyed initiating his fellow colleagues in. “It’s quiet and the enormity of it – when you’re in a 32-year-old plantation, it’s extremely peaceful,” he said. “I think the term is far from the madding crowd’.
During the last twelve months in OneFortyOne’s Transition to Retirement program, Terry helped develop a fire training video series for the company. Utilising his decades of experience fighting and managing forest fires, Terry interviewed 100-plus workers about their fire experience, wrote scripts and helped direct the series of short films, which will be used to help prepare employees for busy fire seasons.
OneFortyOne Fire Manager Justin Cook said Terry always put his heart into his work and had earned respect from his many colleagues over the years. “Terry is so proud of the OFO plantations that he and his family have worked on for more than 50 years,” he said. “His dedication and commitment show’s through in everything he does. “Terry has always made a conscious effort to pass on his knowledge to the next generation and to mentor and develop people.” Terry encouraged anyone considering a career in forestry to take the opportunity, saying the sky was the limit.
“Honestly, it’s the best job in the world,” he said. “You can go to university and get a forestry degree but there’s also jobs in harvesting, transport and mechanics. There’s so much you can do. I cannot believe how lucky I’ve been.”
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