26 May, 2024

Wimmera ag students shine

Ag students from the Wimmera have nabbed two of the coveted 19 spots on offer in this year’s AgriFutures Horizon Scholarship program.

By Rosalea Ryan

Chloe Frank
Chloe Frank

Chloe Frank from Carron and Lachlan Craig from Harrow were announced last week as members of the Australia-wide initiative’s 2024 cohort.

Each will receive a bursary of $10,000 to help offset study and living expenses in the final two years of their university degree and be invited to take part in professional development workshops and annual work placements aligned with their area of interest and their sponsor’s industry.

They will also be offered opportunities to network and gain knowledge by attending agricultural events.

The national scholarship packages are awarded to tertiary students enrolled full-time in agricultural or related studies in Australian universities.

Ms Frank’s scholarship is sponsored by Meat & Livestock Australia.

“I’m in my third year of a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga,” she said.

Having grown up on her parents’ mixed cropping and sheep property and attended school locally, she headed north in her gap year.

“After finishing school I took a year to think about the direction I was going to take in tertiary study and worked on several fruit farms along the coast of New South Wales and Queensland,” Ms Frank said.

“I’ve always been passionate about agriculture and been grateful for my upbringing on the farm, and my time away from home consolidated my intention to be involved in rural industries in my adult life.”

She said that since beginning her degree in Wagga Wagga she had been able to build on her interest in wool production.

“I’ve been fortunate to complete my wool classing stencil and work at a wool store in Wagga,” she said.

“My grandfather can be awarded with inspiring my particular interest in sheep and wool.

“This - alongside a very fortunate upbringing on our family property and always having positive and encouraging parents and family members and supportive colleagues - has resulted in me being very passionate about broadening my experience in mixed farming and I aim to better my knowledge every day.”

Ms Frank said she was “over the moon to be sponsored by Meat & Livestock Australia”.

“I’ve always been grateful for the work MLA does in extending opportunity for my family as meat producers and I can't wait to broaden my knowledge of meat and livestock under their guidance.

“It will be such a privilege to meet with other scholars, be guided by MLA, and connect with other young people who also want to contribute to the success of rural communities.

“The work experience and opportunities provided by being involved with MLA will be invaluable as I come to the end of my studies and look to a career in this area.”

Mr Craig is the 55th student sponsored by the Grains Research and Development Corporation since the Horizon Scholarship program’s inception.

Like Ms Frank, he has a multi-sector background.

“I was raised on a mixed-farming property near Harrow,” he said.

“It was there, from a young age, that I began to develop a strong love of agriculture.

“On completing high school in Adelaide I returned to home to complete a gap year on the farm, furthering my skills and broadening my knowledge.

“This year of practical work further ignited my passion for agriculture and the love of everything involved in farming.”

Now in the second year of a Bachelor of Agriculture at The University of Melbourne, he said he was intending to major in plant and soil science.

“I’m passionate about the relationship between livestock and cropping systems in a mixed-farm setting and how different enterprises can benefit one another,” he said.

“I’m very excited to receive this amazing opportunity and, importantly, I’m especially looking forward to working with my sponsor, GRDC.

“I can’t wait to learn valuable information on placement, meet like-minded people and build valuable relationships throughout this experience.”

Proving yet again that old adage ‘you have to be in it to win it’, western Victoria punched well above its geographic weight this year in earning another two scholarships.

A third student with ties to the Wimmera, Sasha Gifford from Mildura, will be sponsored by Hort Innovation.

Now studying agricultural science at The Unviersity of Adelaide, Ms Gifford said she had her sights set on working as a horticultural agronomist to support growers in managing pests and diseases and plant nutrition.

“My family have been dried fruit producers for Sunraysia since the end of World War II and have had mixed farming enterprises in the Wimmera,” she said.

During her gap year Ms Gifford worked on a large vineyard in south-west NSW and was involved in pest trials in winegrapes, citrus and almonds as a field technician.

She is joined in the program by Nick Myers from Stuart Mill near St Arnaud.

“My family have farmed and produced prime lamb for four generations,” Mr Myers said.

“I’ve loved being immersed in this lifestyle from a young age with the freedom and opportunities it’s provided me.

“My experience in the agriculture industry is vast, ranging from harvest work to ram sales to mustering on beef properties to starting my own Poll Dorset stud, and I’m yet to find an aspect I don’t enjoy.

“I was fortunate enough to be accepted into the veterinary science course at Charles Sturt University and upon graduating next year I hope to utilise my skills in a rural community, providing producers with assistance and guidance on animal production and welfare.

“I believe veterinarians play a pivotal role in the community and, on a larger scale, the agricultural industry.”

The 2024 program will kick off in July with a Horizon workshop during the AgriFutures Stakeholder Summit in Wagga Wagga.

Reflecting the rapidly changing face of agriculture across the Wimmera Mallee and Australia more broadly, this year’s scholarship cohort comprises 11 young women and eight young men.

Lachlan Craig
Lachlan Craig
Sasha Gifford
Sasha Gifford
Nick Myers
Nick Myers

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