Tiffany Hunt on the road in the WA wheat belt.
PHOTO: Evan Collis
Applications for the fifth round of Horizon Scholarships, targeting first-year tertiary students planning a career in agriculture, are now open. The GRDC is one of 12 sponsors of the Horizon Scholarship program, which has so far supported 39 students through courses ranging from veterinary and plant sciences to agribusiness.
Tiffany Hunt, from Warialda, in northern NSW, is one of the inaugural Horizon Scholars sponsored by the GRDC. She completed her Bachelor of Rural Sciences at the University of New England in 2013, and says a career in agronomy is the most likely direction she will take.
As part of her Horizon Scholarship she was given the opportunity to experience farming systems around Australia. An industry placement provided the chance to work with the grower-led, Victorian-based extension group Southern Farming Systems, helping with research for the national Grain & Graze program. She used this as the basis for an honours project in the final year of her degree, experimenting with dual-purpose cropping and sowing times on the NSW Northern Tablelands.
Last year she also spent time in Western Australia, visiting growers and grower-based agronomy groups to learn more about their production systems as part of a GRDC-sponsored tour.
“I really loved seeing how the production systems there differ from those in eastern Australia, and particularly how growers cope with the rainfall variability and the winter-dominant rainfall systems. Where I am from in NSW, we have a summer-dominant rainfall pattern. It was also interesting to see the different transport, grain handling and marketing systems in WA.”
Tiffany says one of the most beneficial aspects of the Horizon Scholarship was the support of mentors from her university and industry, who provided direction that helped her stay on-track with her studies. “This has been really valuable, particularly in my first two years,” she says.
Professional development workshops also provided networking opportunities with industry experts and with other young people enthusiastic about the future of agriculture.
The aim of the Horizon Scholarship program is to encourage top students to pursue careers in agriculture, developing the next generation of industry leaders from diverse fields of study. It provides a $5000 bursary to support academic pursuits and expands the perspectives of students, while building leadership and advocacy skills for Australia’s primary industries.
Scholarships are awarded to students as they enter their first year of university to pursue an agriculture-relevant degree.
Tiffany encourages anyone with a passion for food production and the future of agriculture to apply for a Horizon Scholarship. Applications for 2014 scholarships close on 31 January 2014 (www.rirdc.gov.au/research-programs/rural-people-issues/horizon-scholarship).
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