2019 Scholars

Anna Drake

Bachelor Food and Agribusiness at University of Sydney | Sponsored by GRDC

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“I’ve always been intrigued by the abundance and variety of fresh produce available year-round, and a family friend who is a passionate horticultural scientist spurred my interest in this sector.”

My name is Anna Drake and I am studying a Bachelor of Food and Agribusiness at the University of Sydney.

I’ve always been intrigued by the abundance and variety of fresh produce available year-round, and a family friend who is a passionate horticultural scientist spurred my interest in this sector. Although I grew up in Sydney, studying food science and agribusiness at university was a natural extension of my interest in biology and economics at school.

Now I’m interested in how research, plant breeding and post-harvest management can lift productivity and address challenges of disease, drought and fierce international competition. This includes crops where flavour, nutrition and adding value can be enhanced through scientific knowledge, and de-commodification can help growers improve returns while also pleasing urban appetites.

The hot dry plains of Narrabri where I spent my summer are a huge contrast to both Sydney and North Yorkshire where my Dad’s family had small dairy farm for several generations. Tariffs and a trend towards increasing international trade barriers mean Australian food producers must maintain an edge by embracing technology, science and logistics to ensure consistently high-quality food reaches our markets.

I’m also interested in the rising importance of plant-based sources of protein and changing attitudes towards plants as food. Improving production outcomes and increasing demand for legume crops have huge potential to enhance farmers’ incomes while contributing to sustainable farming practices to protect the environment, improve soils and generate export income.

Emma Rice

Bachelor of Agriculture at University of New England | Sponsored by GRDC

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“Agriculture is something that I’ve always been involved in and I am particularly interested in finding out more about the potential to evolve cropping practices in Australia.”

Hi my name is Emma Rice and I’m a 20-year-old student studying agriculture at the University of New England. I grew up on a mixed livestock and cropping property outside of Parkes in central west NSW. The farm has been in our family for three generations and my earliest memories involve me shadowing my Dad as we checked the crops. Agriculture is something that I’ve always been involved in and I am particularly interested in finding out more about the potential to evolve cropping practices in Australia. We’ve always had winter crops in this region but with increasing climate variability, new strategies are potentially needed. I’m interested in working in the field of either education or research and development and I would definitely like to travel and live and work in another regional area within Australia.

Besides my studies I am the Vice Chair of the UNE Farming Futures event which is aimed at university, school and TAFE students and getting them interested in the agriculture industry. I am really passionate about spiking people’s interest in the industry. The Farming Futures event includes a dinner, careers fair and a school’s program so it’s really at a grassroots level.

I am also very proud to have been selected for the AgriFutures Australia Horizon Scholar Program. It is definitely a great opportunity to build a strong network and gain some better insights into the current challenges facing the industry.

Harrison Goy

Bachelor of Agriculture at University of Melbourne | Sponsored by HORT

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“Some of my friends question why I want to do agriculture because they think it’s about sitting on a tractor but agriculture is about so much more.”

Hi my name is Harrison Goy but everyone calls me Harry and I have known since I was a kid I was going to study agriculture at Melbourne University which is what I’m currently doing. I was always a bit different at school and for a school project in Year 9, I wrote a book about how to rear calves. As a kid I leased some land and reared potty calves. I would buy bull calves off dairy farmers and then sell them onto the market when the time was right. That’s how I made money.

I’m currently majoring in economics and in my honour’s year I’ll specialise in Agri Business, with a focus on venture capital. My vision is to finance new start-ups on farms involving horticulture. Although I have spent a lot of time working with livestock, I am really keen to explore the possibilities in hort. I did a work placement at a hydroponic tomato farm at Warragul in Victoria and it really opened my eyes and changed my thinking. I still love livestock but what is exciting for me is the challenges involved in agriculture and the equal amount of opportunities.

Some of my friends question why I want to do agriculture because they think it’s about sitting on a tractor but agriculture is about so much more. This is the stuff that keeps me awake at night and thinking about all the great possibilities that are out there.

Kellie Maybery-Reupert

Bachelor of Science Advanced – Global Challenges (Honours) at Monash University | Sponsored by GRDC

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“I have always been interested in science and I wanted to study a degree where I could figure out how everything works while still being creative.”

Hi my name is Kellie Maybery-Reupert and my vision for the future is based on genetics. I am a 20-year-old student studying Bachelor of Science Advanced – Global at Monash University in Melbourne. Like most people my age I’m interested in exploring how new technologies can combat climate change. I’m currently learning how omega 3 which is normally found just in fish is being genetically added to crops such as canola. Just imagine the impact of plants rich in omega 3 on nations whose populations suffer from malnutrition. I have always been interested in science and I wanted to study a degree where I could figure out how everything works while still being creative. I play the saxophone and draw so I guess I’m a sax playing, artistic geneticist.

I grew up in country Victoria at a place called Warragul as a town girl with both my parents really into gardening. I suppose that’s where I get my love of plants from. My course is perfect for me as it tackles some of the big issues when it comes to global warming. We are looking at how to reduce the footprint of unsustainable energies and how to make farming more sustainable. We are also considering how we can make resources last for a much longer time.

These are the issues confronting my generation and this is the stuff that keeps me awake at night.

Matthew Nevison

Bachelor of Food and Agribusiness at University of Sydney | Sponsored by AgriFutures Australia

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“I am particularly keen on contributing to the development of an endurable model for Australian agriculture, this is a model that can weather environmental and economic volatility.”

Hi my name is Matt Nevison and my vision for the future is around food security and exploring how everyone on the planet can have access to nutritious food. I am a 20-year-old student studying Food and Agribusiness at Sydney University. I am also an AgriFutures Horizon scholar which means I’ve won a bursary for the final two years of my degree. This prestigious national scholarship also gives me access to key industry players where I can workshop my ideas, go on work placements and develop awesome contacts. As a young child I lived in Shanghai and Kuala Lumpur and those memories have imparted an appreciation of Australia’s role in feeding the world.

I am particularly excited to investigate the use of native species such as Kakadu Plum, Davidson Plum, Quandong, Native Pepper and or Lemon Aspen as value-added foods. I am keen to find out how these crops can be used to climate-proof multi-output farming enterprises, benefit indigenous stakeholders and contribute to building a stronger brand identity for Australian Agriculture to export to the world. I am particularly keen on contributing to the development of an endurable model for Australian agriculture, this is a model that can weather environmental and economic volatility. I am excited by an ecosystem that prioritises collaboration as I believe this will act as a gateway to the future success of our rural economies.

Mikaela Tilse

Bachelor of Science in Agriculture at University of Sydney | Sponsored by AgriFutures Australia

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“I’m excited about agriculture’s role in its broader sense and its economic, political and social impact.”

My name is Mikaela Tilse and I am studying a bachelor of science in agriculture at the University of Sydney.

I grew up in the village of Gundy in the Hunter Valley and agriculture is in my blood. My family have an apple orchard and vineyard on the outskirts of Gundy which has been in our family for more than a hundred years. So even though we don’t live on the farm, I have grown up showing cattle and following my Dad and Grandfather around the orchard and vineyard. I suppose you could say I had no choice but to do agriculture.

Moving to Sydney to study at university was a big change for me. As part of my university placement, I spent two weeks with the Rice Growers Association of Australia in Leeton learning all about the Australian rice industry. I was fortunate enough to shadow extension officers and agronomists, tour the mill and attend water policy and irrigation meetings, amongst other things, opening my eyes to the huge scale of agriculture across the Riverina and the opportunities in ag right across Australia. It was a great opportunity to experience an industry so different from anything I have ever worked with before.

I’m excited about agriculture’s role in its broader sense and its economic, political and social impact. It’s not just about producing food but more broadly how agriculture can support the communities which produce food and water. I want to make my own mark away from the family farm and see what I can achieve.

Montana de Meillon

Bachelor of Environment and Sustainability at  Australian National University | Sponsored by AgriFutures Australia 

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“It is really important to me that Australia’s natural resource use is based on best practice for sustainability, so I am really interested in turning research findings into practice.”

My name is Montana de Meillon and I am studying a double degree in Development Studies and Environment and Sustainability at the Australian National University in Canberra.

I am passionate about the environment and its impact on communities, so that’s why my degree has a twin focus. Recently, I’ve been studying Australia’s challenges surrounding water scarcity. It’s been cool to look at the Murray Darling Basin Plan and see how that plays out to meet different stakeholders interests in water – from conservation of wetlands, to irrigation, and Traditional Owner uses. Despite the disputes over water resources, research is showing that increasing communication between these stakeholders can lead to shared interests in more sustainable outcomes. It is really important to me that Australia’s natural resource use is based on best practice for sustainability, so I am really interested in turning research findings into practice.

Another area I am interested in is the importance of insect pollination to agriculture. I have been working on a research project to better understand the pollination activities of Australia’s native bees. I’m using field data to ask questions such as ‘what plant species can farmers grow alongside their crops to attract a diversity of native bees?’ This research area could have implications for crop quality and quantity, as well as influence our approach to land management.

Agriculture is so necessary for humanity. Although the future holds big challenges, I’m excited to help our agricultural industries be more sustainable and continue as global leaders.

Natasha Reading

Bachelor of Agriculture at University of Melbourne | Sponsored by MLA

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“I’m really excited about educating people about animal health and the extension of research and development and I see my pathway as an advocacy role.”

My name is Natasha Reading and I am studying a bachelor of agriculture at the University of Melbourne.

I grew up on a mixed farm near Stawell in the Wimmera region of Victoria and I am a fifth generation farmer. When I moved to Melbourne to attend university it was such an eye opener for me, living at college and meeting students from all over the world. I’m really passionate about educating people about farming and I spend a lot of time at college doing that. I am really interested in advances in technology, genetics and research and development. I am majoring in the microbiology and biochemistry of animal health and nutrition.

I think the red meat industry receives a lot of unfair criticism which other industries don’t have to deal with, and is scrutinised more intensely than other industries. I also think we need to better explain the bio security process, and address traceability from producer and consumer, without breaching privacy issues. There’s no doubt we’ll have to develop ways to cope with population growth and how we can use less land, and I think the development of technology to better adapt to climate change will be a key driver in that process.

I am passionate about science and the benefits of the meat industry. I’m really excited about educating people about animal health and the extension of research and development, and I see my pathway as an advocacy role.

Sacha Pulsford

Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Philosophy (Honours) at Australian National University | Sponsored by AgriFutures Australia 

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“I got into plant science because it seemed like the natural culmination of my curiosity of genetics and love of the environment, but it’s been the interdisciplinary relevance and innovation of the field that has kept me here.”

My name is Sacha Pulsford and I am studying a Bachelor of Philosophy (Hons) at the Australian National University in Canberra with a focus on plant science.

I got into plant science because it seemed like the natural culmination of my curiosity of genetics and love of the environment, but it’s been the interdisciplinary relevance and innovation of the field that has kept me here. The great thing about plant science is once you have a good grounding in the field, you can apply it to a range of issues. I am particularly interested in strategies that seek to boost yields and the stress tolerance of staple crops. I believe these efforts will be critical to secure a food supply for future generations in the face of a growing population and an increasingly variable climate.

So far, I’ve been able to work with a number of great lab groups at the ANU. I’ve enjoyed learning the ins and outs of lab work, it’s been really rewarding learning how to develop and test biological questions. I’d love to work in crop development to try and create faster, higher-throughput breeding techniques for desired traits. In the future, I hope to gain more exposure to field work to help align fundamental research aims with projects that have more tangible benefits for local farming communities. I am really keen to make the most of the industry placements this scholarship facilitates and meet other young people excited about agricultural development in Australia.

Sophia Thatcher

Bachelor of Agriculture and Bachelor of Business at University of New England | Sponsored by AgriFutures Australia

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“I’m excited by Australia’s growing thoroughbred industry and I would love to have more involvement in the areas of breeding and bloodstock.”

My name is Sophia Thatcher and I am studying a Bachelor of Business with a major in agribusiness at the University of New England in Armidale.

I am passionate about horses, in particular the thoroughbred and racing industry. I began competing in eventing and pony club, but when I was 17, I was offered a job riding racehorses in track work. Whilst completing university, I worked at racing stables across the New England region and qualified to become a Picnic Jockey and then an Apprentice Jockey. Although it was tough to get up so early and juggle study with track commitments, I found it a fantastic experience to learn from people in the industry and to see their dedication first hand. I’m really pleased to have had that experience and I’m now focusing on completing my university studies.

I am really interested in breeding horses and recently I bred my own horse for eventing. I am particularly passionate about the welfare of horses whilst they are racing and also when they complete their racing careers. The Australian racing industry is doing impressive work in this area, rehoming thoroughbreds and expanding the industry’s footprint in this way.

I’m excited by Australia’s growing thoroughbred industry and I would love to have more involvement in the areas of breeding and bloodstock. The world is watching what we are doing and I can’t wait to be a part of it. I am very grateful to AgriFutures Australia for this incredible opportunity.

Tom Grills

Bachelor of Agriculture at University of Melbourne | Sponsored by GRDC

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“I am passionate about helping those who need it most, and it is clear to me that agricultural leaders have the opportunity to make life better for the impoverished.”

My name is Tom Grills and I am studying a Bachelor of Agriculture at the University of Melbourne.

I am passionate about sustainability and food security. Having lived in an impoverished rural community within Tanzania through my childhood, I have seen first-hand the impact of food insecurity. I was shocked to learn that annually the world produces two to three times the amount food needed to feed the global population. Thus, if we can develop more effective systems of distribution, we can eliminate hunger. I am passionate about helping those who need it most, and it is clear to me that agricultural leaders have the opportunity to make life better for the impoverished. I want to know more about food security and learn about the global systems of commodity trading and distribution.

I am open to living and working anywhere in the future, but I aspire to return to Africa during my career to connect with issues that inspired my connection with agriculture in the first place.

The agricultural industry will be a key driver of prosperity, wellbeing and sustainability throughout the world into the future and I am excited to be a part of this influential space.

William Foster

Bachelor of Agriculture at University of Melbourne | Sponsored by GRDC 

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“Considering Australia’s position as a developed nation, I’m excited to see the role that Australia’s businesses will play as leaders in the industry from an environmental, animal welfare and technological point of view.”

My name is Will Foster and I’m a Tassie boy studying Agriculture at The University of Melbourne. I grew up on a Merino farm in central Tasmania which was established in 1823. I’m seventh generation on the land so I’ve always had a keen interest in Agriculture.

When I was younger I was intrigued by genetics and breeding, a passion that started with breeding chickens with my brother and then moved on to cattle. As I became older, conversations with my parents brought about a new passion in understanding productivity and strategy in the farm business. More recently, I’ve become interested in the global reach of agriculture, particularly international trade, the supply chain and the role of the consumer. I’m really interested in getting exposed to different businesses, whether it’s a farm or a textile’s manufacturer. This has been encouraged by my recent work with a corporate advisory firm, undertaking research and seeing alternate ways of thinking.

Services (namely AgTech) is something I’m also really interested in. Considering Australia’s position as a developed nation, I’m excited to see the role that Australia’s businesses will play as leaders in the industry from an environmental, animal welfare and technological point of view. At some point, I’d love to be involved in the venture capital space, helping small start-ups reach their potential and make a real difference. Gaining exposure to a broad spectrum of people & businesses and building networks is why I love Agriculture.

Previous Horizon Scholars