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Mark Sheppard's success story

Mark Sheppard from Armidale, New South Wales, worked on sheep stations through to cherry farms when he was young. He started his career as a risk manager and insurance broker, but 20 years ago he fell into pest and weed management and has loved his job ever since.

“I started off predominantly in domestic and then moved to commercial pest management,” Mark said, “through fumigation training and consulting we got involved in grain around ten years ago.”

Mark is qualified in pest management, including fumigation, a lead auditor and workplace trainer and assessor.

Mark trains individuals to large cooperatives on all areas of pest management, through his company’s registered training organisation. As a consultant he has worked on projects for fumigant manufacturers and has travelled Australia and overseas to teach others about the correct methods of fumigation.

“The consulting side of my job is exciting,” Mark said, “it can range from helping people set things up, to large overseas companies that are bringing new fumigates into the Australian grain industry, to providing expertise on insurance claim investigations and dispute resolution. After 20 years, I’m still on a massive learning curve in this job and it is exciting.”

Mark believes maintaining the green-side of his business is also very important.

“No matter what you do in pest management, chemicals should always be your second choice. We need to be careful and minimise fumigant use which are ozone depleting and greenhouse gasses,” Mark said.

“There’s a European company that I’m working with on a fumigant that is not an ozone depleter, not a greenhouse gas, has excellent penetration qualities, reduced venting risk areas and will be competitive price-wise. This is great for our planet and it’s exciting to be able to work on a product like that.”

Mark likes that his job enables him to help farmers and he sees himself as “one piece of the puzzle” in their business.

“Australia, in my opinion, is the premier producer of grain in the world and I feel quite proud when I work overseas and hear about this,” Mark said. “To maintain grain quality, Australian grain growers are becoming more innovative and progressive through integrated pest management strategies.”

Mark is passionate about his job. In future he would like to develop a course that maximises individual learning and can be completed by electronic learning.

“I’ve got a job that I love and people say I’m crazy because I am so passionate about it. I’m fifty-nine years of age, and what’s my future? Well, I’d like to be doing it for another 10 or 20 years.”

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