Elle Davis made a spontaneous choice to study Agricultural Science, and it turned out to be “the best decision” she ever made.
“I had no idea this was what I wanted to do. Most of my immediate and extended family are medical professionals, and I think I grew up thinking that was what I was going to do too, as I was interested in medicine.
“I got to the end of college and I was doing well in maths and economics, so I thought I’d study Business.”
After a trip overseas at the end of year 12 helped her gain a different perspective, Elle had a change of heart.
I knew then that I wanted something different, something more. I went into a bit of a panic, wondering what it was I wanted to do.
“But I knew I liked science, environmental studies, and issues around sustainability. I put all of those together and thought, what can I do?””
The answer was a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at the University of Tasmania.
“I actually knew nothing about it. I didn’t have any background in the area. It was a very spontaneous moment for me, and I’m not a very spontaneous person!
“First year was confronting because I was studying with people who had so much background knowledge from living on and working on farms, and I was a city girl who had hardly set foot on a farm.
But I spoke to family friends who work in agriculture, and they said to me ‘we need people who are not originally from an agricultural background; we need those people to come into the sector. We need an outside perspective.’ That was a massive confidence booster for me. I got more and more involved, and now I am so passionate about it. I’m really happy I took that punt.
“It makes me passionate now to try and encourage people who don’t have an ag background to get involved. It’s a really important sector, not just in Tasmania, but globally.”
The Honours component of the course gave Elle a chance to investigate a topic in depth, and she was keen to look at viticulture.
“All the older students said ‘find a good supervisor, find a good topic, and you’ll be laughing.’ I was lucky in finding great supervisors, Dr Jo Jones, Dr Nigel Swarts and Dr Al Gracie. They were just brilliant. They were so supportive, and got me through those ‘I can’t do this’ moments that all uni students have.
“I had always been interested in viticulture and it is Jo’s particular expertise. I was very inspired by her teaching during undergrad, and I was always interested in working with her, so it all matched up.
Everyone in my year found a project that really fitted and worked for them. All of the lecturers are so willing to help you out and so friendly.
After graduating, Elle worked at the Uni’s Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture in a promotional role, where her duties included assisting with the organisation of the University’s presence at Agfest, and student recruitment activities.
“I loved the student recruitment work because I am really passionate about getting young people involved in agriculture.”
Before entering into full time work, Elle decided to go travelling. She saved up and went away for four months to Europe and South East Asia.
“I came back, looked for a job, and landed quite happily at the TFGA in Launceston.
“My role is Policy Officer. Very generally I like to say I help farmers do what they do best. The TFGA is the advocacy body for Tasmanian farmers and graziers. My position helps facilitate that advocacy program. We have various councils that we meet with throughout the year, we discuss any issues that need to be addressed, and I help facilitate that.
My job changes day to day. I’m not just at the desk all the time. I’ve been to a few field days, I have meetings off site, and I get to meet such a broad range of people within the agricultural sector, not just in Tasmania but interstate as well.
Elle said she “can’t recommend the Bachelor of Ag Sci enough.”
I was a bit shy as a child and Uni really brought me out of my shell. My choosing to study Ag Sci was a massive shock to everyone. But as I say to everyone, it was the best decision I ever made. I’m a very happy person.