A key philosophy of the school, since its establishment, has been that tutors should not only be tertiary qualified, but also actively working in the industry. This allows students to gain the benefits of the Academic Officers professional experiences and up-to-date knowledge of their industry.
All Academic Officers:
  1. Hold a tertiary qualification (diploma or degree).
  2. Have a minimum of five years of industry experience.
  3. Hold an appropriate training skills qualification.
  4. Are still working in industry (at least part time).
We endeavour to employ tutors who have distinguished themselves as leaders in their respective fields. Current Academic Officers include former presidents and secretaries from professional associations, managers and department heads from a variety of organisations and successful owner operators of a wide variety of businesses.


John L. Mason Dip.Hort.Sc., Sup'n Cert., FCIH, FPLA, FAIH, MISHS, MACHPER, MASA
Mr Mason has had over 50 years experience in the fields of Education, Horticulture, Recreation  and Media. He has extensive experience both as a public servant, and as a business owner.  John has held positions ranging from nurseryman, landscape designer and parks director (Cities of Essendon and Heidelberg) to magazine editor.
John is a well respected member of many professional associations, and has served on many industry committees across his career.  Among other bodies, he is a Fellow of the Institute of Horticulture (UK), Member of the Garden Media Guild, Fellow of Parks and Leisure Australia and of Institute of Horticulture (Australia). He is also board member of the Australian Garden Council and President of the International Approval and Registration Centre.

Mr Mason is the author of of around 150 books and of over two thousand magazine articles, for a range of publishers including Simon and Schuster, Landlinks Press (CSIRO Publishing), Harper Collins and Hyland House.

In addition to being principal and CEO of ACS Distance Education and ACS Publishing.

Click here to read John Mason's full profile


Peta Jinnath Abdul  B.Sc., Grad.Dip.Ed., M.Creative Writing

Peta is a writer with interests in education, science education, and literary theory. She's worked as a writer, editor and teacher, and is currently pursuing her research interests, while working as a writer, tutor and academic officer at ACS. 

Lachlan Allan BA (Hons) Business Administration, BEng (Hons) Electrical & Electronic Engineering

Lachlan has experience of the hospitality, banking and utilities sectors in managerial positions in the UK. Following a career change after moving to Australia, he is also experienced in the medical engineering field where he was an engineer responsible for devices at hospital sites and laboratories.

Valeria Astorga, Ph.D.  Biol Sc, Master Human Nutrition. 
Valeria is a dedicated and passionate lecturer in life sciences, health and wellness related subjects, an area she loves teaching about. She is also a lifelong learner, a passion she strives to instil in her students. 
She has worked as a lecturer, teacher, researcher and manager in diverse fields from sciences to SME’s and not-for-profit accounting, compliance, data management and human resources. Her experience includes research in wetland soil processes and cleaner technologies for industry and as a lecturer, teaching health, nutrition, wellness and Public Health subjects.
Other passions include the observation of the natural world, trekking, wellness practice, travel, reading and music.   

Marie Beermann  B.Sc. Hort., M.Sc. Hort., Cert. III Ldscp., Dipl. Management, PDC

Over 12 years in horticulture and education in both Australia and Germany. Marie has been a co author of MANY ebooks in recent years, including "Roses" and "Climbing Plants"

 Sarah Berry  B.Sc.(Hons)

Sarah completed a Bachelor of Science (Zoology) with Honours from The University of Queensland in 2014. With an honours project focusing on glow worms in Australia, she then moved onto a PhD in Aquaculture from James Cook University working with Australian prawn farmers to grow bigger, better prawns. She has a wide range of scientific experience over the past 5 years in physiology, genetics, ecology, molecular technology, statistics, animal health, care, and nutrition. Sarah is currently continuing her work in research while publishing her PhD work. 


Jenny Bragg – MA (Professional Hospitality & Tourism Management), PGCE (Post Compulsory Education), BA (Hons) Hospitality Business Management.

Jenny has experience across many different business areas including marketing, operations management and human resources, her speciality fields are events, hospitality and tourism. She has worked in a number of different service sector organisations including hotels, restaurants, bars and specialist event providers. Jenny is a trained teacher and has worked with different educational bodies in the UK, as well as providing a consultancy service to the business and events sector. 

Maggi Brown RHS Cert. Hort. Cert. Ed. Member RHS Life Member Garden Organic (HDRA)

Maggi is regarded as an expert in organic growing throughout the UK, having worked for two decades as Education Officer at the world renowned Henry Doubleday Research Association (Now Garden Organic). Since leaving the employ of Garden Organic, she has been honoured with a life membership.  She has been active in education, environmental management and horticulture across the UK for more than three decades.

Dr Robert Browne  B.Sc., PhD

Robert’s science employment has included consultancy with biotechnology corporations and in response to the global biodiversity conservation crisis, and has focused on amphibian conservation and sustainability. Working with zoos in Australia, the USA, Europe, and as Research Officer for the IUCN has led Robert to work with collaborative conservation programs in the USA, Peoples Republic of China, Australia, Russian Federation, Islamic Republic of Iran, and Cameroon. 

Robert has experience in a wide range of research fields supporting herpetological conservation and environmental sustainability. He has published in the scientific fields of nutrition, pathology, larval growth and development, husbandry, thermo-biology, reproduction technologies, and facility design. In addition to his work in research and other international projects for the conservation of amphibians, other vertebrates, and invertebrates, Robert is establishing a sustainability project with a research facility based in the region of a coastal village in Belize. 


Mike Brugman - BSc (Geology); BSc Hons (Environmental Science), MSc* (Geography)

Mike is a graduate of Rhodes University and has experience in the Earth Science field. His working experience includes working as a consultant in geology, environmental and atmospheric science.

More recently he has been focused on research and academia including research interests in areas such as air quality and carbon emissions.


 Dr Kerry Claydon 

BA-BSc (Psychology, Computer Science, Aquaculture), BSc (Hons Microbiology), PhD (Microbiology), Diploma in Brewing Science

Kerry has over 20 years’ experience in various fields of microbiology including aquatic microbiology, medical microbiology, agricultural microbiology, and brewing microbiology.  Kerry has been the Director of several health programs within Australian and Asia and is a passionate teacher and tutor. 




Jacinda Cole B.Sc., Psych.Cert., M. Psych. Cert.Garden Design, MACA

Jacinda has expertise in psychology and horticulture. She holds a BSc (hons) in Psychology and a Masters in Psychology (Clinical) and also trained in psychoanalytic psychotherapy at the London Centre for Psychotherapy. In horticulture she has a Certificate in Garden Design and ran her own landscaping and garden design business for a number of years. Jacinda also has many years experience in course development and educational writing.  


Diana Cole B.A. (Hons), RHS Diploma in Horticulture, BTEC Higher Diploma in Garden Design, Diploma Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development, PTLLS (Preparing to Teach in the Life Long Learning Sector), P.D.C.

In addition to the qualifications listed above, Diana holds City & Guild construction qualifications and an NPTC pesticide spraying licence (PA1/PA6). Diana runs her own landscape gardening business (Arbella Gardens). She also has skills gained through leading a group of volunteers renovating a local park on behalf of a local council and has been a volunteer leader with the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers. She continues to teach the Royal Horticultural Society qualifications (Levels 2 and 3) at her local college. She is a member of The National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners Ltd.  

David Crothers   FCA, GAICD,  B.Sc.Econ (Hons), Cert IV TAA

David is a graduate of Queens University Belfast, and a Chartered Accountant with over 20 years working experience in corporate and financial roles, both in Australia and other parts of the world. He is currently working as Chief Financial Officer at a diversified business in Sydney where his responsibilities include fiscal and managerial leadership, internal and external reporting, cash management, budgeting, debt funding and productivity improving. While David has worked at several multinational organisations, his current focus is family business management and he is an active participant in international family business conferences. He is also a passionate advocate of education, and currently tutors in a range of business and accounting subjects.


Rosemary Davies  B Ed, BSc Hort, Dip Advertising & Marketing

Originally from Melbourne, Rosemary trained in Horticultural Applied Science at Burnley, a campus of Melbourne University. Initially she worked with Agriculture Victoria as an extension officer, taught horticulture students, worked on radio with ABC radio (clocking up over 24 years as a presenter of garden talkback programs, initially the only woman presenter on gardening in Victoria) and she simultaneously developed a career as a writer.

She then studied Education and Training, teaching TAFE apprentices and developing curriculum for TAFE, before taking up an offer as a full time columnist with the Herald and Weekly Times and its magazine department after a number of years as columnist with the Age. She has worked for a number of companies in writing and publications, PR community education and management and has led several tours to Europe.

In 1999 Rosemary was BPW Bendigo Business Woman of the Year and is one of the founders and the Patron, of the Friends of the Bendigo Botanic gardens. She has completed her 6th book this year and is working on concepts for several others.

Peter Douglas Dip. Animal Husbandry

Peter has over 60 years of experience in Agriculture and resources management. He is a former lecturer with the University of Queensland (Gatton), and manager of Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. He also established and managed the wildlife park for Dreamworld, one of Australia's largest theme parks. Peter has both wide ranging experience in farming and wildlife management, and continues to apply that knowledge both through his work with ACS, and helping his adult children who have pursued careers of their own in similar areas.

Sarah Redman B.Bus (Marketing), Cert Bus.Admin

Sarah has 15 years industry experience covering marketing, PR, administration, event management and training, both in private enterprise and government; in Australia, the UK and Dubai.

Sarah was the Public Relations and Marketing Coordinator for P&O Maritime, has worked for DP World and also worked at many smaller industry associations and training organisations.

Marius Erasmus B.Sc.Agric., B.Sc.(Wildlife), M.Sc.Agric.

Subsequent to completing a BSc (Agric) degree in animal science, he completed an honours degree in wildlife management, and a masters degree in production animal physiology. Following the Masters degree, he has worked for 9 years in the UK, and South Africa in wildlife management, dairy, beef and poultry farming.

Dr Maria L. Schmitz Fontes PhD (Marine Science), MSc (Environmental Engineering), BA Hons  (Pharmaceutical Sciences and Biochemistry)

Maria has extensive experience in Environmental Science working in the private and public sectors. She has 6 years of experience teaching graduate and post-graduate students subjects as Marine Pollution, Microbial Ecology, Geochemistry, Oceanography, Methods in Aquatic Science and Benthic Ecology. She has published over 20 scientific articles and book chapters.  She has also coordinated an innovative project in bioenergy production using simple-cheap methods to isolate microbes in laboratory. She has collaborated with scientists of Climate Change Cluster Group from University of Technology Sydney and has current interests in areas such as: sustainability and clean energy. 




Kate Gibson B.Soc.Sc, Post-Grad. Dip. Org Behaviour (HR)

Kate has years of experience working as a marketing advisor in education, and experience as an IT project manager. She has also worked as a graphic designer, has experience in web design, and has worked in Human Resource Management also. Kate has travelled and worked in a variety of locations including: New Zealand, London, and Australia. Her current role at ACS includes managing our affiliation relationships, and the training and induction of new affiliates.


Denise Hodges   Adv.Dip.Bus., Dip. Clothing Design, Adv.Dip.Naturopathy (completing) 

Formerly Promotions Manager for ABC retail, Fitness Programmer/Instructor, Small Business Owner.   
After trying out a number of career directions, Denise studied Marketing, and honed her skills by working in promotions for the ABC for ten years. However, Naturopathy studies have allowed her to share and further indulge her real passion, which lies in health and wellness. Denise continues to enjoy learning and sharing her interests with others.

Bob James Dip.Animal Husb, B.App.Sc., Grad.Dip.Mgt, PDC

Bob has 50 years experience in industry, having held a wide variety of senior positions in both government and private enterprise.

Bob's experience and knowledge is diverse, encompassing the fields of Horticulture, Agriculture, Environmental Management, Business and Professional Writing.

Tracey Jones - Academic Officer & Tutor (U.K.) B.Sc. (Hons) (Psychology), M.Soc.Sc (social work), Dip. SW (social work), PGCE (Education), PGD (Learning Disability Studies).

Tracey has over 20 years experience within the psychology and social work field, particularly working with people with learning disabilities. She is also qualified as a teacher and now teaches psychology and social work related subjects.

She is a book reviewer for the British Journal of Social Work. Tracey has also written a text book on Psychology and has had several short stories published.


Josiane  Joubran B.Eng., Grad.Dip.I.T., Master Info.Tech., MCP, MCSE

Josiane has eight years experience as an I.T professional in Lebanon and Australia. Extensive experience with computer hardware and engineering, CSC consultant with IBM, Software QA Engineer, Course Writer and Tutor.

Jan Kelly    Dip Hort (Burnley); Cert IV Assessment & Training

Jan has around 50 years experience in horticulture, including over 20 years as owner/manager of a wholesale / retail nursery. She has worked in both Australia and New Guinea, in many different capacities, including as a horticultural consultant and landscape designer for domestic and development projects, with considerable experience in Conservation & Land Management.  Jan has been a trainer of Amenity Horticulture and Landscape Design for 10 years.



Melissa Leistra  Bachelor Education, Masters Human Nutrition

Melissa has a Masters Degree in Human Nutrition from Deakin University and Bachelor's degree specialising in personal development, health and physical education.  She has enjoyed teaching Hospitality in the areas of commercial cookery and food and beverage.  Her experience includes 16 years teaching health and nutrition and working in the hospitality industry.  Melissa enjoys living a self-sustainable lifestyle on a farm and raising all types of animals.  She is an experienced vegetarian/vegan cook and loves to create wholesome food using her slow combustion wood stove.

Alison Pearce - PG Cert Ed (Primary), M.Ecotourism, PGCert Ed., BSc (Hon) Animal Science.

Alison brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to ACS Agriculture, Wildlife and Ecotourism students.

She has worked as a University Lecturer, a Quality Assurance Manager, a Research Technician, and has also run a veterinary operating theatre; responsible for animal anaesthesia, instrument preparation, and assistance with surgical techniques and procedures.  She has worked in the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

She has extensive experience of handling, husbandry, and management of a wide range of both small and large animals and has a particular love for nature and wildlife.

 Dr Julia Mayo-Ramsay PhD (University  of Tasmania),  Graduate Certificate in Maritime Safety (AMC) LLM (Environmental Law ANU), GDLP (ANU), LLB (SCU), BL&JS (SCU), MAppSc (Hawkesbury), Graduate Diploma Agriculture (Hawkesbury), Certificate IV Training & Assessment, Certificate IV Frontline Management. 
Dr Julia Mayo-Ramsay is a practising environmental and agricultural lawyer. She holds a PhD in International Environmental Law, LLM, BLJS, GDLP, LLM (Environmental Law) and a Master of Applied Science (Agriculture). 
Julia started out in agriculture working on various dairy farms in the 1980s before working as dairy manager / tutor at Hawkesbury Agricultural College Richmond NSW. Julia then went on to work at Riverina Artificial Breeders at Tabletop (Albury) NSW as an embryo transfer technician assisting vets with artificial breeding and embryo transfer in cattle, sheep and deer. This was followed by two years as a herd manager for a very large commercial dairy herd milking 3,000 cows over three dairies on the outskirts of Sydney before heading overseas. In 1994 Julia accepted a position in NE Thailand at the Sakhon Nakhon Institute of Technology (now a University) training farmers and students in cattle breeding and dairy farm management. On returning to Australia in late 1996 Julia completed a Master of Applied Science in Agriculture at Hawkesbury Agricultural College (UWS) as well as law degrees and maritime studies. Julia now works as a Lawyer in the area of environmental and rural law.
Currently Julia teaches a variety of maritime subjects for Marine Rescue NSW.
As well as teaching Julia is working on a number of environmental research projects.
Cheyenne E. Mason M.S. (Restorative Practices), B.A. (Psychology)

Cheyenne has a Master's degree in Restorative Practices (the science of relationships within a community) from the International Institute for Restorative Practices and a Bachelor's in Psychology from Colorado Christian University. In her studies, she has focused on cross-cultural communications, trauma, and family group conferencing, with an emphasis on cultural humility. Cheyenne also has over ten years of experience working in education with a diverse group of students, including indigenous and refugee children, adolescents, and their families. She has lived and worked both in the United States and Australia.  

Susanne Maas B.A., Dip.Hort, (Burnley),Adv.Dip.TESOL, Dip.Logistics Mgt.

Over 3 decades working across across different industries including Logistics, Horticulture, Education and Linguistics. Has lived and worked Mellbourne, Sydney, the Gold Coast, Noumea and Vietnam. 

Dr. Lynette Morgan B. Hort. Tech., Ph.D. in Horticultural Science

Dr Morgan has a broad expertise in horticulture and crop production, and a keen appreciation of the global scene. She travels widely as a partner in Suntec Horticultural Consultants, and has clients in central America, the USA, Caribbean, South East Asia, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.


Helen Rex - Dip.I.T., Cert IT, part B.A.

Helen started her career as a chef before travelling extensively in Europe while living in the U.K. She moved from cooking to the financial markets where she started her career in Information Technology.
With over 25 years experience in information technology primarily in the financial markets, local government and animal health sectors. Helen moved from working in IT to the education sector where she has been involved
in tutoring, course development and learning management systems.
She is currently living in rural New South Wales with her family and enjoying studying law part time.



Dr. Gareth Pearce  B.Sc.(Hons), B.V.Sc., M.A., M.Vet.S,. PhD, Grad. Cert. Ed.(HE), Post-Grad.Cert. Aq.Vet.Sc., Post-Grad. Cert. WLBio&Cons., Dipl. ECPHM, MRCVS.

Gareth has over 25 years of experience in teaching and research in agriculture, veterinary medicine, wildlife ecology and conservation in a variety of colleges and universities in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. He qualified as a veterinary surgeon at the Universities of Melbourne and Bristol, having previously graduated in Agricultural Science and gained a PhD in Livestock Behaviour and Production. He also has post-graduate qualifications in Education, Wildlife Conservation Medicine, Aquatic Veterinary Studies and Wildlife Biology & Conservation.
Sarah Pirecki  BAnVetBioSc., Dip. ProjMgt (TBC).

A passionate advocate for animal health and welfare.  Sarah completed a Bachelor of Animal and Veterinary Bioscience majoring in Animal Health and Disease and is currently completing a Diploma of Project Management. She has a wide range of experience working in agricultural settings, veterinary nursing, assistance dog raising, and animal education. 

Jade Sciascia  B.Sc.Biol, Dip.Prof.Ed, Cert Food Hygiene.

Former Business Coordinator, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, Secondary School teacher (Biology); Administrator (Recruitment), Senior Supervisor (Youth Welfare). International Business Manager for IARC. Academic officer and writer with ACS for over 10 years, both in Australia and in the UK. 

Barbara Seguel  B.Sc., M. Aquaculture Eng.
Barbara has worked around the world from Hawaii to Mexico, Chile and New Zealand, and now in Australia. Her experience covers tourism and hospitality to aquaculture and poultry egg production.
Mitchell Skiller. Assoc. Dip. In Horticulture, Cert IV in Training and Assessment.  

Mitchell has had over 25 year’s experience in the Horticultural Industry.  He has held positions  as a supervising horticulturist, landscaper, consultant, and a business owner growing cut flowers, specialising in tropicals.

Lyn Quirk M.Prof.Ed.; Adv.Dip.Compl.Med (Naturopathy); Adv.Dip.Sports Therapy

Lyn has 35 years of experience in the Fitness, Health and Leisure Industries. She has a string of qualifications that are far too long to list here; being qualified and registered to teach, coach or instruct a wide range of different sports and other skills.

Lyn established and managed Health clubs at three major five star resorts on Australia's Gold Coast, including The Marriott. She was a department head for a large government vocational college (TAFE), and has conducted her own aquafitness business for many years. Lyn has among her other commitments worked as a tutor for ACS for almost 10 years, and over that time, participated in the development or upgrading of most courses in her fields of expertise. 

Yvonne Sharpe RHS Cert.Hort, Dip.Hort, M.Hort, Cert.Ed., Dip.Mgt.

Over 30 years of experience in horticulture, education and management, Yvonne has travelled widely within and beyond Europe, and has worked in many areas of horticulture from garden centres to horticultural therapy. She has served on industry committees and been actively involved with amateur garden clubs for decades.



Parita Shah  M.Sc Horticulture, B.Sc Horticulture, Cert in Greenhouse management

Parita has a Masters Degree in Horticulture specializing in Plantation, Spices, Medicinal and Aromatic crops and Organic farming. She has worked as a freelance consultant, and in an Avocado nursery in NSW as grafting and preparing avocado clones.  
Nicola Stewart  BA(Hons); Dip.Pub; CIM Dip.Marketing; PGCE; Dip.Holistic Aromatherapy; Dip.Reflexology; Dip.Orton-Gillingham Multisensory Language Education; Masters in Education & Professional Studies/Research, PhD (underway)

Nicola worked in publishing before changing direction to teach Anatomy, Physiology and various complementary therapies in the UK’s post-compulsory sector for 16 years. She is the published author of 10 books, plus a range of magazine articles and has also ghost-written across a number of genres. When she is not working for ACS, she provides specialist literacy tuition for children with dyslexia.

Christine Todd  B.A., M.Plan.Prac., M.A.(Sociol)
Thirty years of industry experience covering photography, sustainability, planning, sustainability, environmental law, architecture and education. Has worked as a university lecturer, operated a successful small business and lived a self sufficient life as part of a Steiner School Community.
Christine brings a wealth of academic knowledge coupled with diverse and practical life experience to the students she mentors.

Alan Vo - B. Software Engineering - Computer Science

Alan has 14 years experience as an I.T professional in Australia. Extensive experience with software engineering, web development, web marketing, and ecommerce at digital agencies as well as client-sides on various projects and industries.

Timothy Walker  B.A.(Botany),  RHS.M. Hort., Post.Grad.Dip.Ed.

Timothy is a Botanist, Horticulturist and Gardener. He is an Author, and also a lecturer at Somerville College, Oxford. After training at a number of gardens  including Windsor Great Park and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Timothy commenced work at Oxford Botanic Gardens in 1986. Appointed as "Horti Praefectus" (Superintendent/Director) there in 1988, he held that position until 2014. Under Timothy's watch, the garden won four gold medals at the Chelsea Flower Show, and developed 67 acres of MG5 wild flower meadow at the Harcourt Arboretum; a UK threatened habitat. Timothy remains an active practical gardener as well as a highly respected international academic in the fields of horticulture and plant botany. 



Cheryl Wilson  B.Sc.(Hons), HND Horse Mgt, C&G Teaching Cert

Cheryl has spent two decades working in agriculture and equine industries, across England, Scotland, Australia and New Zealand. Formerly: Sports Horse Stud Groom, Stable Manager, Yard Manager, Equine industrial Training Manager, FE Distance Learning Manager at Warwickshire College

Kara Wight - BSc (Applied Bioscience and Zoology), HND (Animal Care), HND (Photography & Imaging)

Kara gained an HND in Animal Care and graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Applied Bioscience and Zoology.  She has a wide range of experience working with animals such dogs, small pets, birds, zoo animals, British wildlife and reptiles.  Kara gained this experience working within animal parks, canine rescue centres and a wildlife hospital.  She also managed an animal care training facility for a college.  At this training facility she instructed and lectured students within Animal Care and Veterinary Nursing from National Certificate level to Higher National Diploma levels.    

Kara also gained an HND in Photography and Imaging and has 5 years’ experience within this sector.  She ran a small portraiture and wedding photography business and also exhibited work in art exhibitions.  Kara gained more experience photographing sporting and festival events.  

Kara currently runs a pet care and training business in the UK and also has entry to undertake her MSc in International Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law this academic year. 

 Rajy Xavier M. Eng., M. Ed.

An Electrical Engineer with 12 years of experience in Engineering and Education. After completing masters in Telecommunication Engineering,  she worked as an Assistant Professor in Electrical Engineering for 5 years. Then she has completed her masters in education with double major from Queensland University of Technology. 




Leonie Mason - Administration Director

Kerri Smith - Administration/Student Services

Amy Priestner -Administration/Student Services

Sandra Eberwein -Accounts and Student Services

Nicholas Mason  - I.T. and Marketing

Robert Plaza - Video Production and Management       

Jensen Just   - Video Editing


Leonie Mason

Administration Director