VICTORIA'S Rural Woman of the Year, Michelle Freeman, is not the type who grows on trees.
She's a city-born 20-something nature lover who "just kind of fell into" her career as a harvesting forester with VicForests at Alexandra.
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But now, she is making a big impact in her industry and in the rural communities it supports.
It was a love of camping and being among nature that first drew her to a career managing public forests.
"Our forests are so beautiful and have so many different values: conservation, recreation and the renewal resource of timber production," she said.
"In my career I want to do all I can to ensure we manage the forests sustainably, so they can provide all these values."
Michelle said a newly harvested forest was "still a confronting site".
"But we do regenerate our forests, and the area harvested annually is very small," she said.
An independent panel chose Michelle from a field of four finalists and awarded her a $10,000 bursary.
She plans to use it to facilitate a network of young foresters.