Students meet to exchange rural industry experiences

Published 22 July 2011

PICSE UNEStudents preparing for tertiary study travelled to the University of New England last Friday (15 July) to share their enthusiasm for science and how it relates to agricultural industries. They travelled to UNE from throughout the New England North West region: from Armidale, Gunnedah, Tamworth, Guyra, Glen Innes, Inverell and Walcha.

For many, it was a reunion with fellow scholarship recipients who spent their holidays last summer touring award-winning agricultural science enterprises, working with agricultural scientists, and finding out about the variety of science-based careers available in agricultural industries. For others – applicants for the next scholarship phase – it was a chance to meet the former participants and get insights into what they will experience in December 2011.

The annual Science-to-Industry Camp, and the five-day Industry Placement (working alongside scientists), are the components of Industry Placement Scholarships administered by the national Primary Industries Centre for Science Education (PICSE), which has one of its NSW activity centres at UNE. Susanna Greig, who coordinates activities for the UNE activity centre, said: “This reunion event allows us to provide students who have been selected for – and have completed – an Industry Placement Scholarship with a further insight into the broad range of science-based careers supporting primary industries. It also provides new applicants for UNE PICSE Scholarships with an opportunity to have a taste of the PICSE program.”

Ms Greig said that the students at last Friday’s reunion event had been challenged to find “buried treasure” with tools used by scientists in UNE’s Precision Agriculture Research Group – including GPS and electromagnetic sensors. They had also identified parasites in sheep, she said, and had met former PICSE Scholarship recipients who were now students at UNE to find out about courses and opportunities for study at UNE.

“Today’s secondary students have to realise that farming for the future needs to be smart,” said UNE’s Professor David Lamb, leader of the Precision Agriculture Research Group. “We need people with scientific skills in agriculture.”

Morgan Murtagh, a Year 11 student from O’Connor Catholic College who has applied for a PICSE Industry Placement Scholarship, said that the event on Friday had given him a great insight into advances in farming – including the use of advanced technologies such as GPS.

“Having lived on a property all my life, I wanted to find out about employment opportunities in agricultural industries, and available courses and scholarships for tertiary study in agricultural science,” Morgan said.

THE PHOTOGRAPH displayed here shows Morgan Murtagh (right) and UNE’s Derek Schneider. It was taken at the reunion event during an activity related to precision agriculture.