Interviewing Cassie Price – International Day of Women & Girls in Science

Ahead of International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we sat down for a chat with Director of Habitat Programs Cassie Price, to find out how she started her career and explore her personal journey that has led her to her current position as OzFish’s 2IC and a pioneering force at the forefront of fish habitat restoration.

Before even launching into the questions Cass is quick to mention that nature sciences were largely dominated by women prior to WW2. She cites Jane Carey’s Taking to the Field, that tells of a vibrant culture of women in science in the years up to 1945 – as academics, researchers, lab workers, teachers, writers and activists for science-based social reform.

Referencing those who’ve come before her highlights a common undercurrent amongst Cass’s answers – that science is for everyone.

It stands to wonder how someone knows they’d enjoy a career in science, so this is where we begin.

“I grew up farming on 4500 acres in South Australia’s mallee, in an area where two bioregions converged. I was fascinated by that land and became deeply connected to its beauty, seasons and quirks. But there was absolutely no surface water nearby, not a river, lake or dam – all of our water was artesian.

“As you can imagine, going from the farm to our annual fishing holidays was a HUGE treat, and I transferred my love of nature to discovering everything I could about the underwater world, especially fish and fishing.

“Naturally, when I thought about what I wanted to do for a career, science had already become my greatest interest. I had a talent for science and for ag sciences at high school, so I considered fields of agriculture, aquaculture and fisheries management. A move from the farm to sunny Ballina in my late high school years cemented my direction to aquatic sciences.”

‘Where to from here?’ we ask.

“I studied Fisheries and Aquaculture Management at Southern Cross University in Lismore, receiving a Bachelor of Applied Science with a major in Fisheries and Aquaculture Management, at the end of 2001.

“Of our graduating class of 50, only 5 were women, as far as I know very few of them went on to make a career in the industry.

“I was fortunate to be accepted as an intern at the Department of Fisheries (NSW) after graduating. And after the eight week program, I continued to volunteer for the Department, and this resulted in my first role as a temp Project Officer for NSW Fisheries in early 2002.

“It was at this time, that I learned so much about the importance of fish habitat as the solution to a healthy wild-caught fishery – and habitat restoration became my thing.

“From there, I was fortunate to pick up a permanent role with NGO WetlandCare Australia and moved to Inverell in late 2002 as their Regional Wetland Extension Officer, helping farmers in the northwest restore their wetlands back to functioning habitats.

“I became very passionate about NGOs. Their ability to make a real difference and engage the community to help improve habitats – and so a 20+ year career in community-driven fish habitat restoration was born. You can see why OzFish is the place for me to live that passion!”

And live that passion she does- it’s infectious. We want in on the secret, so ask for her best advice for women and girls wanting to do the same.

“It’s cliché… but follow your interests and what you love. It will give you the energy to overcome any of the hurdles that science can throw at you. And try to remember that science isn’t all labs and study and research – we need more Applied Scientists! There is so much need for people ‘doing’ science these days.

“Science is absolutely gender neutral, it doesn’t matter who you are, you can make a huge difference in the science field. So don’t think of yourself as a woman in science, think of yourself as what you are – an Ecologist, Botanist, Restoration Scientist, Agronomist… the list goes on.

“Lastly, make your own path – like so many things in science, it is often yet to be discovered, so make it your own – find ways to do the science you know is important.”

At OzFish we support early career scientists and work alongside those that are now experts in their field. Like many of these women, Cassie defies the conventional boundaries of her role, seemingly doing the work of five people every day. How she manages her demanding schedule remain a mystery to many (even the boss!), yet her unwavering commitment and tireless effort inspires those around her.

So, here’s to the fearless women of science like Cassie Price, please continue to break down barriers, think differently and spread your magic!

To learn more about Cass, connect with her on LinkedIn.

OzFish continues to champion diversity and inclusivity and is committed to the Women’s Recreational Fishing League’s goal to achieve 50/50 gender equality in fishing by 2050. We recognise the invaluable role that women play in shaping the future of our waterways. We are an equal opportunity employer and pride ourselves on supporting women and girls into careers in habitat restoration through employment opportunities, volunteer programs and our Young Leaders initiative.