A conversation with Morgan McPherson: from between the hills of Adelaide

“You can pull it all apart, but really, at the end of the day, we’re a biological, moving bit of carbon and that’s all we’ve got.”

Morgan McPherson has spent his life immersed in nature, advocating for its rights and protection. His links with conservation started early; his mother often brought him to Greenpeace rallies and meetings as a toddler.

“I grew up between the hills and the city of Adelaide – very green in winter, and dry in summer. Although, during the millennial drought from 2000 onwards, it became very dry, and people had to be very conscious and aware of water use. At home we were always funnelling off grey water onto the garden, using buckets in the sink and minimising waste where ever we could.”

He has since travelled the length and breadth of Australia, in search of a way to express his passion for the environment and conservation, and for a fitting career. He jokingly describes his career moves since graduating high school as ‘left, right and centre’.

One of Morgan’s first jobs was as a volunteer in the horticulture department of Adelaide Zoo, where he eventually landed a paid position. He then moved into varied roles, from conservation to horticulture and interpretation to customer engagement, which all influenced his decision to complete a Diploma of Conservation and Land Management. A desire to move away from tourism led him to other environment-focused roles, including a stint as a ranger in the Northern Territory, a life guard on the Great Barrier Reef and as a koala feeder at Seaworld on the Gold Coast.

“Going into my diploma was hands down, by accident, the best thing I have ever done. It gave me some skills, put me into the field a lot and gave me some good foundational skills”

With years under his belt in the field, Morgan became frustrated with the small ‘band-aid fixes’ often employed by conservationists who were more concerned with deploying what was the most cost-effective solution, rather than what was more effective and considerate of the long term.

“Coming from an ecological background, we work on the understanding that no part of an ecosystem acts without any influence on, or from, another part. [I think] it’s that understanding that makes me look at any management issues, especially ones as complex as water management, with a slightly different view than most.”

Frustrated with the ‘this is how we’ve always done it’ attitude, Morgan came to the conclusion that his knowledge and experience could be extremely useful as a leader, in both the conservation and water sectors. To help solidify his knowledge, Morgan joined the Master of Integrated Water Management degree at the International WaterCentre. He hopes to use the program to improve on his leadership skills and explore water management approaches to conservation.

“I would like to change people’s attitude of the environment, from being a stationary object that gets in the way, to one where we see it as a fantastic tool that can minimise work, reduce costs and thrive under our management.”

Morgan McPherson is completed the Master of Integrated Water Management at the International WaterCentre.

Written by: Dahna Morrisson