Charles Sturt University
Charles Sturt University

Career Graduates

Seth De Bolt

BScAgr (2002 - University of Sydney), PhD (Adelaide) (2006), Assistant Professor in Horticulture, University of Kentucky in Lexington, USA.

Seth De BoltI was attracted to studying a degree in agricultural science because I had grown up on a farm and I knew the employment prospects in agriculture were strong.

Looking back, now 8 years ago, the Bachelor of Science in Agriculture was challenging for issues such as climate change and its impact on agriculture and biotechnology that are currently so topical. During my fourth year, I participated in an excursion coordinated by Professor Ivan Kennedy, to Canberra and the Murray Darling Basin, studying how agriculture could adapt to climate change.

The Honours program incorporated into the second, third and fourth years of the degree was excellent. For my fourth year research project I studied how soil salinity altered the microbial composition of soils on cotton farms. Professor Les Copeland was my supervisor and this final year of study definitely directed me into a research career, a real change in direction for me… from my previous focus - surfing and rock climbing!

I enrolled in a PhD program at the University of Adelaide working with Dr Chris Ford and made yearly sojourns to UC-Davis to work with Professor Doug Cook, who was at the time sequencing the grapevine transcriptome. My dissertation was on how grape berries synthesis tartaric acid. After graduating as a PhD in 2006, I changed my field of study to work as a post doctoral researcher with Professor Chris Somerville at the Carnegie Institute for Science at Stanford University. This new area of study was related to plant cell walls, specifically, how cellulose is made, a fascinating process in which a symmetrical cluster of enzyme molecules cooperate to push out a twisted strand of fibre. This research area has become very topical of late from the strong interest in using cellulosic biomass to make bio-ethanol as an alternative liquid transportation fuel with the virtue of not competing with food production. I now have a teaching and research appointment and I am starting up my own laboratory in the Department of Horticulture at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, USA.

Taking my research on plant based alternative energy to a useful product is now my main goal.

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Tiffany Patrick

BAgrEc (Hons) (2007 - University of Sydney),2007 Graduate Program,Goldman Sachs JBWere, Securities Division

Tiffany PatrickI chose Agricultural Economics as my first UAC preference because I had a desire to study economics and finance coupled with a strong interest in agriculture. After investigating many degree options and consulting widely with undergraduate students, academics and professionals, a four-year applied economics degree (which includes Honours) in Agricultural Economics was highly recommended.

The relatively small size of the Faculty provides opportunities to develop strong friendships with students from around Australia and abroad, which is a highlight of the degree and makes the university experience much more enjoyable.

The degree program is diverse with the opportunity to major in a broad range of areas such as finance, business law and economics and students are required to complete professional experience. The biggest advantage of the BAgrEc is that it applies economics and finance to a highly diverse and important global primary sector which contributes significantly to the Australian economy. This means graduates are differentiated in the marketplace and are highly employable across a diverse range of areas. I believe a degree in Agricultural Economics maximized my opportunities during university and will continue to do so in the future.

I commenced working with Goldman Sachs JBWere on their 2007 Graduate Program within the Securities Division. Goldman Sachs JBWere is a leading investment banking, financial advisory, securities and investment management firm that provides a wide range of services worldwide. My role is broad involving sales and trading components for our primary clients who are located in the Asia Pacific regions. This also provides me with the opportunity to travel domestically and internationally. My role crosses over into various asset classes such as foreign exchange trading, futures and structured products, but my key focus is Australian and international equity markets.

I enjoy working with Goldman Sachs JB Were, part of the Goldman Sachs Group, as it is a unique, diverse, and challenging role which involves a high level of responsibility. I would like to continue my career within finance in one of the many Goldman Sachs global offices.

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Alix McFarland

BSc - Animal Production (2007), Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, NSW

Alix McFarlandAs a fifth generation member of my family to draw a livelihood from the industry, my origins are firmly entrenched in Australian agriculture. Having been raised on a property near Hay, my passion for the agricultural sector and the broader rural Australia developed from a young age.

I started out my career as a rural journalist – initially with our local newspaper and later as the editor of a regional publication. Having always craved the raw practical experience of life on the land, I spent the 2001 season working on cattle stations in northern Australia before returning home to spend some time working on the family enterprise and other district properties.

I completed my Bachelor of Science (Animal Production) at Charles Sturt University (CSU) in Wagga in 2006, graduating with a Dean’s Award for Academic Excellence, the Beef Improvement Association Prize and Robert Cay Memorial Prize. The degree had a critical practical focus underpinned by vital scientific principles helping to better equip graduates for life on land and/or in related industries today. From meat judging in the United States to the race day committee, my opportunities extended well beyond the walls of the lecture room into the community and across the agricultural sector as a whole.

I spent the majority of 2007 working as the trainee manager at a feedlot near Dalby in Queensland and am currently running my own small business incorporating rural communications. I hope to further build on my career with experience in both livestock nutrition and education. It is no secret that life on the land today is as challenging as ever. From prolonged drought to market volatility, from amalgamation of services to unprecedented levels of rural depression, our primary producers and regional communities are constantly being tried and tested.

In the face of this adversity, however, come considerable opportunities. With every challenge, we are seeing staggering developments in resourcefulness and remarkable innovation coming to the fore.

Today’s agricultural science graduates go out into the sector at a challenging but exciting time. I hope we do so with an air of resilience and as members of a generation that remain passionate about Australian agriculture; a hard working generation that acknowledges the value of tradition, but at the same time, embraces innovation; a considerate generation that pays homage to our forebears and demonstrates a respect for our animals and for our environment in order that it may remain productive for generations to come; a generation that not only recognises, but promotes, the critical importance of sustainable agricultural production to our society.

It is via continued learning through leading education providers such as CSU that much of this can be achieved.

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Heath McWhirter

Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (specialising in agronomy), Charles Sturt University

I developed an interest in agriculture from growing up on a property at Bermagui on the Far South Coast of NSW. After year 12 I left the coast to go jackeroo at Mungadal Merino Stud which is located at Hay, NSW. I thoroughly enjoyed this position and met many people with a similar passion for the agriculture industry. As a result of this year I was able to gain a position on the Twynam Agricultural Group cadetship program which involved working on several large scale cattle, sheep, irrigated and dryland cropping properties for the duration of the university holidays. I completed Bachelor of Science in agriculture specialising in agronomy at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga. I found CSU to be a very diverse learning environment with endless opportunities, one opportunity I was able to undertake was a six exchange programme to Peterborough in Canada. It was a life changing experience opening my eyes to many issues and allowing me to realise how global the world has become. Currently I am working full time for Twynam Agricultural group, on a graduate position working with the group agronomist and business manager. This position allows me to gain a lot of experience over the different aspects of the business as well as be able to get out and about the different properties and see what is going on in the field. I feel agriculture has a strong future with many exciting and challenging opportunities, things are not necessarily going to be easy but this will lead to more efficient systems and allow Australia to be leaders in agricultural best practice and technology.

I am currently Ag Club president for 2007 and since first year of university I have been involved with both Ag Club and Ag Rugby which has led to me finding more friends with the same interests as me within the university. I joined these clubs to become more involved with uni life.

I am a founding member of WAC Fishing Club and have played a major part in the establishment of the club as well as being on the executive committee for two positions. The fishing club is independent of the university and has the aim of connecting past Ag College students currently working in the agricultural industry with current students who are completing their degree. The club also acts as a mechanism for keeping people in touch once they have finished their degree. Currently the club has 62 members and we gained sponsorship from Fishing World, The Black Swan Hotel and South Wagga Butchery. What motivated me is the lack of such a club which caters for both current and past students.

I am currently a member of the NSW Young Farmers Association and was a delegate at the annual Young Farmers Forum in Sydney last year. Within the meetings, topics and issues that were discussed include Ag Start, superannuation, Federal and State politics, agricultural policy development and leadership skills. I thoroughly enjoyed this experience as I met many people of similar age and interests and look forward to attending next year. I have also recently became a member of the young irrigators network.

My biggest achievement to date is gaining a position on the Twynam Pastoral Company cadetship scheme which I commenced in 2004. Once the "cadet" has been selected for the program, they must complete 12 months as a Jackeroo on one of Twynam's properties. I spent my 12 months at the company's Merino stud in Hay (Mungadal). When the cadet has begun university the program entails working at one Twynam's 16 properties each holiday. With the program I have been to seven of the properties and have had experiences ranging from animal production to various dry land and irrigated cropping systems. The company also involves us in the annual budgets and crop reviews. Gaining this cadetship has been very satisfying not only because I beat many applicants when applying for it but I have also had the opportunity to travel most of New South Wales and been exposed to a wide range of different enterprises as well as meeting and networking with a variety of people in the industry.

One other recent achievement is being accepted into CSU exchange program. I am leaving in August to do six months study at Trent university in Canada. I think that traveling overseas will enable me to broaden my skills particularly those relating to the organisation of the trip such as flights and accommodation as well as the subjects that I will be undertaking at Trent. I also believe that an opportunity such as an exchange will increase my confidence as I will be thrown in the deep end and will have to work a lot of things out myself, which I am really looking forward to.

Long Term Goal: I hope to become a leader in my chosen field of agriculture and improve water efficiencies within cropping systems. This can be achieved through the gaining of knowledge through further studies.

Social Goal: I aim to be involved in local community groups and be a valued member of the community. In the short term this can be achieved by becoming more actively involved in Ag Club by becoming a member on the executive committee. In the long term I hope to have a voice and a valued opinion within the New South Wales Farmers Federation.

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Henrik Christiansen

Bachelor of Agribusiness, University of Queensland

Henrik ChristiansenThe fresh food business has proven to be fertile ground for Henrik's career. A Bachelor of Agribusiness graduate, he is now New Business Development Manager with Brisbane company - OneHarvest. OneHarvest businesses span farming, produce trading and processing. The processing business produces fresh cut salads, vegetables, fruit and prepared meals. Henrik's role starts with new business idea generation and runs through to the delivery and commercialisation of these ideas. These projects are often global. Henrik says his degree prepared him well for working life. His studies included lots of interaction with industry leaders and an overseas commercial market development study tour. He is looking forward to continuing his career in the booming and diverse fresh food industry.

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Naomi Diplock

Bachelor of Applied Science (Plant Production), University of Queensland

Naomi DiplockNaomi's career has been a worldwide adventure. An interest in plants she developed through science study at high school led her to complete a Bachelor of Applied Science (Plant Production). During this degree she studied spiders in Singapore and took on exciting field trips in the jungles of Malaysia. She then gained her Honours Degree examining the dieback of Geraldton Wax shoots. She's now doing a PhD for which she travels to remote sites in the Northern Territory and Queensland. She's also heading to France to attend a workshop and present at a conference.

Plant pathology is Naomi's "thing". What could yours be?

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Tara De Landgrafft

Agribusiness Marketing, Curtin University

Tara De LandgrafftI have always been interested in Agriculture; after all I grew up on the family farm in Lake King so my interest was to be expected. However, I didn’t realise my real passion for the industry until I was just three weeks into a double degree in law and journalism. I realised this wasn’t the right path for me when, so I took six months off to work and clear my head and decide what it was I was really passionate about. It was then I thought about giving Muresk a go. Considering my first choice of career path, the switch to Muresk horrified my mother for about a month, until she realised how much I enjoyed studying agriculture, and the great hands on opportunities Muresk offered, making it a stand-out among other agricultural degrees I had considered.

Initially I found Muresk quite a challenge, as I like to do things my own way! Thus I started mid-year and had to do some first year units while in second year but this meant I was able to make more friends and today I have excellent networks. I quickly realised that agriculture was the game I wanted to be in, and the practical skills I gained from studying at Muresk have been invaluable. I chose marketing and crops as my majors, knowledge that I use on a daily basis in my job today.

After graduating in 2006 I was thrilled to start my career as a ABC Rural and Resources Reporter in Perth, having worked for the organisation as my professional practice unit and also during my last semester at university. I was then given the opportunity to travel and relocated to Geraldton, Bunbury and finally Esperance.

I absolutely love my job, I get paid to talk! It’s the perfect gig for me, driving around the countryside all day, talking to farmers. Each day I present a 30 minute radio program called the "Rural and resources report" where I find a minimum of three stories and record them. They can be funny, serious, informative or quirky - but all of them are about primary production. On any one program I can have interviews on the price of gold and implications for exploration, details of a rust outbreak in cereal crops and what sprays farmers should be using, and an increased number of calves being born in the region because of good green feed at joining. After my daily program, I post all of my audio and a summary of the program on the internet, and then re-cut stories that need to be played on the Country Hour that lunchtime. And then it starts all over again, finding farms, farmers, problems and hopefully solutions. My job involves everything from finding stories, recording them, editing them, putting them to air, writing summaries on each for the website, as well as being the public face of the ABC for the Esperance region, and paying station bills.

The skills gained during my degree at Muresk have lead to many amazing opportunities such being the guest speaker at many local functions, as well as MC at events in the region which I really enjoy. I am also on the board of the Esperance hockey association, and fit it all between several overseas trips, buying rams, and heading home to the family farm as much as possible.

With my job I need really great networks and Muresk was priceless for this. It really is great ringing up my uni mates and visiting their farms for stories or chatting to other’s who chose to go into industry. I couldn’t be happier with my choice in going to Muresk, look where it’s taken me!

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Vanessa Carson

Bachelor of Science (Viticulture and Oenology), Curtin University

Vanessa CarsonI was first exposed to the wine industry when I started work experience in the Swan  Valley when I was 15. I decided early that this was the career path I wanted to follow so when I heard Curtin offered a Viticulture and Oenology course I was immediately interested.

I enjoyed the focus of the course, it was practically orientated which meant as graduates we had confidence upon leaving to start working in a winery and were able to grasp the workings of a winery as well as applying the theory to the practical components of winemaking.

Since graduating I have worked throughout the WA, in the Swan Valley, Margaret River and Frankland regions. This has been interspersed with vintages in Bordeauz and Italy - Trentino Alton-adiege region.

For those thinking about a career in this industry - I believe it to be a career that is fun, as well as a wonderful amalgamation of so many different spectrums. It combines science with art, working outdoors as well as indoors and the challenges and problem solving aspect allows it to be a constantly interesting and evolving work environment.

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Katie Bashford

Bachelor of Agribusiness (Agribusiness Marketing Major), Curtin University

Katie BashfordAfter living in Perth since I was quite young but originally from a broadacre farm; Muresk appealed to me because I really wanted to get out of the city and I loved agriculture. I wasn't quite sure exactly what form of agriculture I wanted to be involved in but Muresk has such a broad degree that it really allowed me to keep my options open. I also played polocrosse and had a horse, so it was a bonus that I could take my horse with me.

The degree at Muresk set graduates up beautifully for very successful careers in an extremely broad range of professions. I am yet to hear of another degree that has so many possible career paths upon graduation. My career to date spans just 8 years and already I have enjoyed a number of different and challenging career paths!

Whilst completing my studies, I was fortunate enough to win the annual Grain Pool Scholarship at Muresk, which enabled me to do my Professional Practice with the Grain Pool. As soon as I completed my studies, I began working full time for the Grain Pool as a Contracts Administrator. After two years I was promoted to Regional Manager based firstly in Northam and then in Albany where my key responsibilities were profile building for the company, a contact point for growers in my region and grain acquisition.

After three years of rewarding work as a Regional Manager, I was keen for a new challenge. I returned to Perth in January 2007 as a Customer Account Manager for CBH. This was a completely different side of the CBH Group business predominantly focussed around Logisitics rather than grain marketing! This role proved to be very interesting and challenging and once again with such a broad degree I was able to completely alter my career path into a new direction.

In November 2007, my husband and I decided that city life was not for us and we relocated to Northam where I began working for ANZ as an Agribusiness Manager. The move from grain marketing into agribusiness finance was once again taking my career in a new direction! My new and still current role as Agribusiness Manager has been my greatest role to date. I enjoy working closely with my clients to help them achieve their business goals. I find this role incredibly rewarding and I enjoy the feeling of 'making a difference' on a daily basis.

ANZ has provided invaluable support during my transition into agribusiness finance and is passionate about their staff being well equiped with training, resources and mentoring; to make any transition as seamless as possible. ANZ Agribusiness has a keen appetite for Muresk graduates and is actively recruiting in this space, every year.