Jesse McIvor graduated from Kincumber High School in 2001, a time before bottle flipping and fidget spinners. Jesse wasn’t engaged in school in his junior years, but he says, “By the time I was in year twelve I was studying to gain the best HSC results I could. I was also heavily engaged in Hockey. I surfed incessantly too. It was a difficult juggle, but I managed to get the balance right.” He was captain of the U/17 NSW State Hockey Team, and achieved an impressive UAI (now ATAR) of 85. Since then, Jesse has evolved from world traveller to student to marine biologist, and finally, to science teacher back at Kincumber High School where it all began.
After graduating, Jesse set off on a student exchange scholarship to Denmark in partnership with Rotary. He lived with three different host families just outside of Copenhagen, and attended a secondary school which taught exclusively in Danish. Jesse learnt the language, and made lifelong friends.
When he returned to Australia, Jesse enrolled at Macquarie University and studied Marine Science. Jesse says, “The ocean was a major inspiration. I grew up at Macmasters Beach, being involved in the surf club and going surfing every day after school. I have a great love of the ocean and the surrounding ecosystem.” The course included many practical components, and included field trips to Jervis Bay, the Illawarra region and Fiji. After graduating, Jesse moved to Tasmania and embarked upon a year long Bachelor of Antarctic and Marine Studies with Honours. His thesis was on the growth of Antarctic krill and how this effects biomass and krill fishery.
“All you need to do with anything is to try and reach your maximum potential. A successful person is someone who gives it their best and if they don't succeed they learn and use it to better themselves for the future.”
After returning to NSW, Jesse gained employment at the University of Sydney. He worked at the Camden Veterinary Campus as an Aquatic Technician and Field Officer where he had various roles in animal research. His principal role was to undertake animal husbandry (looking after) for several different species of freshwater fish, maintaining tanks containing Australia Sea Bass, catfish, Murray, cod and perch. The research was aimed at understanding the effects of a virus on fish living in the large Murray Darling Basin. His research determined which fish were affected by the virus and which were carriers.
Although his research was interesting, Jesse left his position at the university to travel the world again. For a year, Jesse travelled through Central America, Czech Republic, Romania, Spain, Morroco, and back to Denmark to visit friends.
After his travels, Jesse gained employment at the Australian Antarctic Division in Tasmania. For this role, Jesse spent four months on a fishing vessel in the subantarctic waters surrounding Heard Island. During this time, Jesse only saw land once. He worked alongside fishermen, taking samples of the gonads of the enormous Patagonian toothfish, which can weigh over 200 kilograms. He returned from a cold four months to work in laboratories, analysing his samples. The work obtained valuable information on the growth and reproduction of Patagonian toothfish, and was used to ensure that overfishing of toothfish does not occur. Jesse says, “We can’t always be happy, not every second. I certainly wasn’t happy that whole four months. But I stuck it out and learnt resilience. By sticking to it, I reaped the rewards of a successful project. It made me happy in the end, and built my confidence in undertaking my own research.”
Over the next years at the Australian Antarctic Division, Jesse completed research on the effect of rising carbon dioxide on a keystone species – krill. Keystone species are extremely important. Everything eats them, including us, and an impact on their population has the ability to impact the entire ecosystem; fish, whales, penguins and humans.
Jesse returned to NSW and embarked on a Diploma of Education at the University of Technology, Sydney. Since graduating, Jesse has worked at various schools on the Central Coast including Kariong Mountains, Gosford, Brisbane Water Secondary School, Lisarow and Kincumber High School. As he says to the students at Kincumber High School who stand where he once stood, “All you need to do with anything is to try and reach your maximum potential. A successful person is someone who participates in things to their maximum potential – they give it their best and if they do not succeed they learn from that and use it to better themselves for the future.”
If he could speak to his fifteen-year-old self, Jesse would say “Teachers are people too. They have much more life experience than you, and you can learn a lot from them. Not only in the subject they teach but generally about life and the world.” He would also tell himself, “Don’t go out surfing in May. You’re going to break your collarbone.”