Graduates catch up at university ceremony

FORMER Year 12 student Lara Gillan said it was great to catch up with her 15 former classmates at a University of New England (UNE) ceremony for a scholarship program they recently completed.

Lara, who last year was a Year 12 student at O’Connor Catholic College in Armidale, was one of four students – three girls and a boy – from the school who undertook the program.

The scholarship program, organised between Dow AgroSciences and the Primary Industries Centre for Science Education (PICSE) at UNE, is part of a long-term strategy to attract a future generation of young people to careers in agriculture.

Each year students do a week’s work experience, learning from the best people in the agricultural industry.

They had a student reporting-back session last Wednesday at UNE that was opened by Professor Iain Young, head of the School of Environmental and Rural Science at the university. 

UNE vice-chancellor Professor Jim Barber also presented each student with their scholarship cheques.

“Yeah, it was great,” Lara, 18, said.

“Everyone enjoyed their experiences at the different places.”

Three of the students had been from Year 11 at her school, while she had been in Year 12.

She said it broadened her exposure to certain aspects of science.

“Before, I was keen on physics and chemistry, not biology – it made me think about it as a choice,” Lara said.

PICSE science education officer Susanna Greig said the ceremony “went really well”.

“Every student gave a really positive, really excited story about their experiences,” she said.

As a result of doing the program, a lot of the students said they were now leaning towards certain courses offered by UNE, she said. 

Others doing their industry placements closer to Tamworth included: Courtney Thomas from Calrossy, who worked with Steph Cameron at EastWest EnviroAg; and Jaynie Ryan from Calrossy Anglican School, who was at Glendon Poultry with Bede and Narelle Burke.

Seven students did industry placements at UNE in mid-January, at the School of Environmental and Rural Science, and the Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit, and NSW Department of Primary Industries Meat Science.

Others students were hosted around the region by Tomato Exchange, Guyra; Bioniche, Armidale; Pathway AgServices, Gunnedah; and the Glen Innes Agricultural Research and Advisory Station and CSIRO, Uralla.

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