A bright view away from city lights

Image of people in a hothouse

Grains trainees (from left) James Walter and Brooke Schofield, with interns Melissa McCallum and Heather Feetham, at the Plant Research Centre at the University of Adelaide’s Waite Campus.

PHOTO: SARDI

Self-described ‘city girl’ Brooke Schofield is about to leave behind the bright urban lights as she journeys into the country to further her interest in a grains research career.

Ms Schofield, a University of Adelaide science graduate, has been awarded a grains traineeship to extend her experience in the sector.

Her traineeship is funded by the GRDC, the South Australian Grain Industry Trust (SAGIT) and the SA Research and Development Institute (SARDI), which is the research division of Primary Industries and Regions SA.

Ms Schofield, 22, is undertaking 12 months of work experience at the University of Adelaide’s Waite campus and other state agricultural research sites in SA.

She will expand her field experience when she moves to Clare in SA’s mid-north for the remainder of this year to support GRDC-funded SARDI pulse agronomy research.

Her undergraduate study ventured into agriculture with her first-class honours thesis on identifying acid sulfate soils using hyper-spectral imagery.

“I’m glad to be expanding my understanding of research careers,” Ms Schofield says. “Already I’m interested in undertaking a research doctorate in agriculture.”

Her one-year traineeship at SARDI follows in the footsteps of the inaugural grains trainee James Walter, who has undertaken research into a range of grain diseases at the Plant Research Centre on the University of Adelaide Waite campus.

“I’ve really enjoyed the past year, and it certainly has opened my eyes to grains research opportunities,” Mr Walter says. 

During the summer holidays, four second-year agricultural science students – Heather Feetham, Melissa McCallum, Brody Lock and Stephen Lang – also undertook a six-week internship under the grains trainee program.

GRDC program manager for capacity building Kathleen Allan says to continue to compete and succeed internationally the Australian grains industry needs a skilled and motivated workforce that includes researchers, growers, advisers and managers.

“It is important that we attract young people from all walks of life,” Ms Allan says.

“Brooke is a shining example of someone who has not come from a rural background, but has seen that grains R&D is a vibrant and rewarding field to be involved in.”

Ms Allan says the GRDC, on behalf of growers and the Australian Government, invests in a range of skills and capacity-building activities that support current and potential members of the industry to improve their ability to lead, learn, change, innovate and advance Australia’s grains sector.

SAGIT chair Michael Treloar says providing support for young people studying agricultural science is vital to succession planning for the industry and for attracting the best and brightest minds to research.

“It’s clear that our industry will rely heavily on technology and emerging areas of science to keep making the productivity gains required for whatever the future brings,” Mr Treloar says.

More information:

Kathleen Allan, GRDC

02 6166 4500

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GRDC Project Code DAS00142

Region National, South