Young farm­ers win schol­ar­ships

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Ag Life -

Wim­mera farm­ers Me­gan Cooper of Glenorchy and Robert Staehr, La­harum, will use Vic­to­rian Young Farm­ers Schol­ar­ships to im­prove skills and de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties.

The pair was among 13 award re­cip­i­ents statewide, an­nounced at a pre­sen­ta­tion cer­e­mony in Mel­bourne last week.

The Young Farm­ers Schol­ar­ships pro­gram pro­vides pri­mary pro­duc­ers un­der the age of 35 with money for train­ing and de­vel­op­ment, as well as on-farm as­sis­tance.

Suc­cess­ful ap­pli­cants re­ceived up to $10,000, up to $5000 for study and up to $5000 to in­vest on-farm or in pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment ac­tiv­i­ties.

Ms Cooper, 33, has worked on her fam­ily’s farm at Glenorchy for sev­eral years af­ter re­turn­ing to the land af­ter a lengthy stint in the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try.

An an­i­mal en­thu­si­ast, she will use her skill-de­vel­op­ment money to gain a wool-class­ing cer­tifi­cate at Lon­gerenong Col­lege and the in­vest­ment money to build a shel­ter over sheep yards to pro­tect an­i­mals from the weather dur­ing shear­ing.

“I orig­i­nally stud­ied hos­pi­tal­ity and did for sev­eral years and then de­cided to move back onto the farm be­cause I en­joy the out­doors and work­ing with an­i­mals,” she said.

“I’m more in­volved in the stock side of the farm than the crop­ping and this fund­ing has al­lowed me to pur­sue the wool-class­ing cer­tifi­cate sooner than ex­pected and now I hope to start that as soon as pos­si­ble. We had also been think­ing about build­ing the shel­ter and now that’s pos­si­ble. The schol­ar­ship is cer­tainly wel­come.”

Mr Staehr, 32, who with his fam­ily runs a mixed farm­ing en­ter­prise, will put his schol­ar­ship money to­wards di­ver­si­fy­ing into viti­cul­ture.

Mr Staehr, who al­ready has a Bach­e­lor in Busi­ness, and fam­ily mem­bers have bought a small vine­yard next to their prop­erty as well as a Mt Stapyl­ton la­bel.

Mr Staehr has also started study­ing viti­cul­ture and wine­mak­ing at Go TAFE in Wan­garatta.

“The schol­ar­ship is a huge help in start­ing this new busi­ness. It helps pay for study and pro­vides a build­ing block,” he said.

“We’ve had the ex­pense of buy­ing the busi­ness and mak­ing nec­es­sary changes and the course is part of that. It’s part of di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion and per­haps cap­i­tal­is­ing on vis­i­tors to the Grampians.

“The hope is to ex­pand the vine­yard in the next few years.”

Nuffield scholar

In other schol­ar­ship de­vel­op­ments, An­thony Close of Culla, south-west of Har­row, is among 17 Nuffield schol­ars for 2019.

Mr Close, sup­ported by Aus­tralian Wool In­no­va­tion, will use his schol­ar­ship to in­ves­ti­gate ways the merino sheep can be­come a prom­i­nent fea­ture of the Aus­tralian farm­ing land­scape.

Each of the schol­ar­ship win­ners, an­nounced at a cer­e­mony in Mel­bourne, will re­ceive a $30,000 bur­sary to travel the globe to re­search cut­ting-edge pro­duc­tion tech­niques and tech­nolo­gies across a wide range of in­dus­tries.

The 2019 co­hort of schol­ars has se­lected wide-rang­ing study top­ics, from re­gen­er­a­tive prac­tices in wine pro­duc­tion and the im­pact of live­stock well­be­ing on pro­duc­tiv­ity, to al­ter­na­tive fuel sources and en­ergy so­lu­tions for Aus­tralia’s agri­cul­tural sec­tor.

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