Grains scholars promote agriculture careers
GroundCover™ Issue: 119 | Author: Sue Knights
Grains industry careers were on show at Western Australia’s premier innovation forum, the Dowerin Field Days in late August.
Two GRDC scholarship recipients, Wesley Lefroy and Dr Siem Siah, shared their personal experiences, with Wesley noting that while people might not take a direct, farm-raised route into the industry, it is innovative, challenging and rewarding once you arrive.
Wesley and Siem were invited to be part of the ‘Careers in Agriculture’ theme at this year’s field days.
“The industry needs intelligent, motivated and innovative people into the future, whether that be through research, service or other career options,” said Field Days chair Ashley Jones.
This year’s theme was aimed at attracting senior secondary-school students and educators to the potential for agriculture careers.
Wesley grew up on his family’s farm near Moora, WA. As a keen sportsman, his initial choice at university was a sports science degree at the University of Western Australia.
Uninspired after six months he changed to agricultural economics in 2010, a more natural interest. Gaining experience on the family farm during his holidays and industry experience as a laboratory technician at the CSBP Plant and in a soil laboratory guided his GRDC-supported honours research on soil mapping in 2013. He earned first-class honours for his project with Emeritus Professor Bob Gilkes.
Since graduating, Wesley has taken a research officer position with Precision SoilTech. The main focus of his current research is the treatment of soil acidity (in partnership with Aglime Australia) and more efficient ways to map soil variation for variable-rate technology.
Wesley’s message to the young audience of nearly 200 over the two-day event was to gain as much work experience as early as possible to better inform career decisions.
Siem represented the other end of the grain value chain and shared her experience in food science. Holding several degrees in this discipline and having completed a GRDC-funded PhD at Charles Sturt University in New South Wales on characterising the role of faba beans in human nutrition, Siem shared her enthusiasm for science and problem-solving.
“One of my career highlights was working together with breeding, local manufacturing and grain-handling companies to capture an opportunity to use downgraded soft noodle wheat to produce high-quality cracker biscuits. This might increase the value of wheat and reduce the risks for growers to grow soft noodle wheat.”
GRDC Project Code GRS116, UHS10416