From thinking of farming as an outdated industry to becoming a champion of a dynamic and evolving industry, Bonnie Hargreaves is one of the new faces of agriculture.
I am not from a farming background, yet I cannot wait to become involved in the agricultural industry in what I envisage will be an enriching and rewarding career.
I often thought about agriculture. When I did spare it a thought, my view was mud and tractors and Akubra hats equals hard work and, most likely, a man’s job.
Not something that a girl interested in science, economics and language would consider for a career. How wrong I was.
My first foray into the agricultural industry was through a camp run by the University of Western Australia (UWA) and a program called the Primary Industry Centre for Science Education (or PICSE pronounced “pixie” for short) aimed at introducing high school students to the primary industries.
The camp involved spending a week at UWA as if we were university students: attending lectures, living on campus, visiting industry centres like Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Kings Park laboratories, and even learning how to cook the perfect steak.
It was here that I realised the real science behind agriculture.
There were so many exciting new developments in plant and animal breeding, soil and climate science, machinery and storage just to name a few.
It definitely wasn’t the static, dull industry that I had imagined and it was exciting to be introduced to some of the cutting edge research happening at UWA.
I then spent a week completing work experience in the Kings Park laboratories working with some of the amazing collection of plants and seeds they have there.
My mind was well and truly made up that this was the right industry for me, as it combined all my interests with plenty of career opportunities, and it was a simple matter to select agricultural science as my first preference for university.
Within a year, I was studying a double degree in Agricultural Science and Commerce at UWA, supported by an incredible Horizon scholarship from Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation.
It definitely wasn’t my first choice for a career, but I wouldn’t look back for a second now. I can’t imagine what else I would be doing and for me, agriculture was a natural fit.
It is a dynamic and evolving industry that needs new and open minds to constantly bring it to the next level to be competitive on the huge global market.
There are certainly challenges to face, primarily the stereotypical perception of agriculture as an outdated industry, which I’m ashamed to admit, I used to believe.
The people in agriculture aren’t the kind to back down from a challenge and I look forward to stepping up to the plate.