2021 graduate from the Charles Sturt School of Agricultural,
Environmental and Veterinary Sciences reflects on her journey into the ag
industry and the abundance of career options available if jobseekers know where
By Stacey Holzapfel.
Despite growing up on a small, hobby farm near Bairnsdale in East Gippsland, Victoria with a few beef cattle, I wouldn’t say I had a lot of exposure to agriculture (ag).
I completed my Certificate II in Agriculture in high school and applied for various uni courses in ag even though I was encouraged to pursue careers associated with high grades, such as law or medicine.
I had no idea what career options were available in ag, whether completing a degree in this industry would get me beyond working as a farmhand, and whether an ag ‘career’ was even possible without owning a property.
Agriculture ─ more than farms down the road
I got my first taste of how broad the ag industry is when I completed two ‘gap’ years on cattle stations in the Pilbara in Western Australia.
After completing a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at Charles Sturt in Wagga Wagga I received great exposure to crop sciences, as well as many additional areas in the ag sector I did not know existed!
One career path that stuck with me was ‘extension’. Extension combines scientific knowledge with practical and interpersonal skills to inform producers of new technology and practices and assists with the adoption of these. This includes being involved in research trials, creating articles and presentations, and delivering on-farm workshops. I loved the idea of being able to use my degree while getting outside to do some practical work, and have since accepted a job in that field.
I was so unsure of the career possibilities that existed in ag, I assume many other high school students would feel the same, unless they specifically looked into their options…
Going to uni to be a farmer?
During high school, it was hard to find out about alternative career options in ag, beyond being a farmer or an agronomist if one pursued an ag degree. It wasn’t until my final years of study that I realised the variety of jobs in ag that required tertiary qualifications. For example, specialist positions I looked at included livestock nutrition and pasture management, developing and managing livestock data systems, consultancy, and research and development in both the private and public sectors.
You don’t know what you don’t know – look outside the square
Charles Sturt really opened my eyes to all the career opportunities that were available to ag students. This included looking beyond the uni gate to make my own connections. By searching in as many places as possible, I discovered many more graduate programs and job positions and found myself with two near-perfect offers of employment.
There’s a job for everyone if you look for it
My advice to students is there’s a job in ag, if you want it. Whether that’s straight after Year 10 or you’re chasing a specialised position after uni.
You may love the area you’ve known for years, but how do you know there isn’t an area more suited to you, if you don’t know it exists?