Dynamic agricultural careers in the spotlight

Date: 24 Sep 2012

Aanandini Ganesalingam examining plants

Two young Western Australians keen to pursue careers in the grains industry are among the people profiled in a new publication highlighting opportunities and educational pathways in Australia’s primary industries sector.

Aanandini Ganesalingam, who is completing a PhD at The University of WA (UWA), and Lachlan Hunter, a Year 12 student at the WA College of Agriculture in Cunderdin, feature in Science, Taking You Places: Pathways for a Dynamic Career in Australia’s Primary Industries.

The magazine was launched on September 20 at the AgriFood Skills Australia National Conference in Sydney and aims to address the decline in agriculture teaching in Australia and falling undergraduate enrolments.

It profiles Primary Industry Centre for Science Education (PICSE) program graduates to illustrate the dynamic opportunities at all levels of the primary industries supply chain, from the laboratory to the farm, including engineering, information technology, economics, marketing and biological and environmental sciences.

Produced with support from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and AgriFood Skills Australia, the publication was released by the PICSE.

PICSE is a national program supported by stakeholders, including the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), which builds networks between students, universities and teachers to meet growing demand for highly skilled professionals in Australia’s primary industries.

Ms Ganesalingam said her participation, as a high school student, in the PICSE summer work placement program saw her spending a week at UWA working with plant breeding researchers – helping in the laboratory and ‘tailing’ research students.

It was her work experience and the prospect of a career in primary industries that led her to a Bachelor of Agricultural Science degree at the university.

“No-one in my family was involved in agriculture in any way and when I started at university I was the only ‘city’ person in my class,” Ms Ganesalingam said.

Assisted by a GRDC scholarship, she completed her honours year in 2009 and is now nearing the end of her PhD thesis on plant breeding.

Ms Ganesalingam said being involved in research provided a good mix of hands-on fieldwork and office or laboratory work, and gave her the opportunity to travel.

Lachlan Hunter standing standing in front of containers

Lachlan Hunter

Despite only being in Year 12, Lachlan Hunter already has a clear picture of his future in agriculture.

He attributes this to his upbringing on a mixed-farming property at Bruce Rock, a strong grounding in theoretical and practical knowledge acquired at secondary college and his participation in the PICSE program.

Mr Hunter had always wanted to study agriculture, but said the PICSE program helped him narrow his career goals to focus on plant production.

“Next year I hope to study Agricultural Science at UWA, followed by postgraduate study to become a plant breeder,” he said.

As a PICSE ambassador, Mr Hunter promotes primary industries in science education and is passionate about extending its opportunities to young people from rural and remote areas.

PICSE chair and Chief Scientist of WA, Professor Lyn Beazley, said a long-term approach was necessary to reverse the declining skills base in Australia’s primary industries and its potential impact on food security and innovation.

“We must focus on a greater exposure to the primary industries at all levels of schooling: primary, secondary and tertiary,” she said.

Science, Taking You Places is available in print and electronic formats. It can be downloaded from the PICSE website at www.picse.net

ENDS

PHOTO CAPTION: Aanandini Ganesalingam.

PHOTO CAPTION: Lachlan Hunter.

Media releases and other media products can be found at www.grdc.com.au/Media-News

Contact: Vic Dobos

PICSE National Strategic Development Manager

0404 844 410

Contact: Natalie Lee

Cox Inall Communications

08 9864 2034; 0427 189 827

GRDC Project Code UT00019

Region West