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Published: 26 May 2022

The successful recipient of a six-week studentship offered through the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture, says the experience has helped her to define her goals and motivated her for the final years of her studies.

Laura Febey, who is in her second year of studying a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at the University of Tasmania, said she welcomed the positive impact the experience has had.

“It has been an amazing opportunity to have a go at random processes of research that will make future use and employment all that much easier,” Laura said.

“I’m confident I’m not alone when I say there is a bit of anxiety around studying for three-four years, then having to decide what career path you take in that area you studied. Especially in an area such as agriculture.

“The studentship has given me a goal to aim for, that is a little more concrete. I feel much more motivated to study after seeing what I am potentially studying for.”

The studentship, delivered in partnership between the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA) and dairy processor Fonterra, provides an opportunity for the successful applicant to spend six weeks working in the Tasmanian livestock sector, where they will experience a diversity of activities across research, extension, processing, and the commercial farm environment.

“This studentship provides an opportunity to spend time talking to and learning from farmers and the Fonterra Farm Source professionals,” Academic Lead at TIA’s Livestock Production Centre Dr Richard Rawnsley said.

“Laura worked with the research team conducting experiments based on a wide range of key industry issues, including feed production, animal performance, animal welfare, grazing management, and irrigation.

“She also worked with TIA’s dairy extension team to support the on-farm delivery of courses associated with pasture management, animal health, and welfare and people management.”

The on-farm work experience Laura undertook at The TIA dairy research facility at Elliott, such as regular monitoring activities that are carried out to provide information for farm management, will go toward creating a database of historical information that can be used for research purposes.

Growing up on Tasmania’s North-West Coast, Laura said she was surrounded by farms and soon learned to love rural life.

“In year 11 I took an environmental class and realised how connected to the rest of the world agriculture is,” Laura said.

“Studying agriculture has completely opened my mind, even for someone who grew up around agriculture, I didn’t realise how broad and expansive the industry really is.

“The networking skills I’ve developed and connections I’ve made are amazing, I can really see a difference in 18-year-old me to now 20-year-old me.

“I don’t think there are many circumstances I will find myself in in life that studying this degree will not help.”

Laura believes there are two areas of the agriculture industry that will benefit from the attention of the next generation of graduates: feeding the increasing population and being environmentally friendly.

“If we want to continue to enjoy nature and the outdoors, have animals and trees and clean air and effective medicine … there needs to be continued efforts toward more environmentally friendly processes,” Laura said.

The studentship has helped Laura see opportunities to connect young people who are keen to learn about agriculture to those who can give them hands-on skills and experience. She also said she’d strongly advise others to consider studying agricultural science.

“It has been one of the best decisions of my life for both the good and the bad,” Laura said.

“The challenges it has thrown at me have been exactly what I’ve needed to grow as a young adult.

“I had a background in agriculture prior to studying so I knew it was an area I enjoyed and would be interested in. But there is something for everyone in agriculture and it really ties into a broad spectrum of other areas.

“I have peers who want to manage import and export on a global level, those who want to grow meat in labs, those who want to build their own niche tourism experience and then some who want to manage or work on a traditional farming property.“I think no matter what path you take after you study, a degree in ag science will be of substantial benefit to you.”