Jerry Leech received an AM in Queen’s Birthday Honours for his significant contribution to forestry, the community and tertiary education.
Dr Leech said he was honoured and surprised to receive the AM when he was asked whether he would accept the award.
“I was not expecting it, in terms of my professional career. I did not expect them to know half of the things that I would consider important,” he said.
“I have always tried to keep things like career and community and living and family all approximately in balance.”
Dr Leech has been involved with the community for many years, particularly with the Lakes Rotary Club and the Ryder Cheshire Mount Gambier Home Foundation.
He was a long-standing bulletin editor for the Rotary Club Mount Gambier Lakes and was the chairman of the District Grants Sub-Committee for the Rotary District 9780.
He remains the treasurer of the Ryder-Cheshire Mount Gambier Home Foundation Board since 2003.
Dr Leech said he believed in serving the local community and said it broadened his outlook on life.
“The advantages of helping in the community are great, but the advantages of the friendships that I get through that activity are great too,” he said.
“I just enjoy it.”
Dr Leech was involved in the forestry industry for many years, has extensive knowledge about computers and data processing, along with publishing many scientific papers.
He has shared his knowledge and expertise with others as a Principal Fellow/Associate Professor at the University of Melbourne and an Adjunct Professor at Southern Cross University.
Dr Leech has also worked overseas for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation in various places including Myanmar, Bhutan, China, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Rome.
To add to his achievements, Dr Leech has previously received other significant awards from Forestry Australia (formerly the Institute of Foresters of Australia), The Rotary Foundation and the Commonwealth Forestry Association.
“The secret to my career and my life has been three great mentors and having a great wife, because she complements and fills in the gaps that are in my life,” he said.