By the time she was 10, Anastasia Rea had seen more of Australia than most people see in their lifetimes, but she still yearned for the dairy farms of south-west Victoria.

Although she didn’t grow up on a farm, Anastasia’s parents and extended family all came from dairy farming backgrounds so when it came to choosing a career, dairy was the top priority.

Anastasia, 19, is now pursuing her dream. As a 2022 Niel Black Gardiner Tertiary Scholar, she is six months into her Advanced Diploma of Agribusiness Management at Longerenong Agriculture College.

A 12-month gap year job on her uncle’s dairy farm confirmed her passion for the industry, and the scholarship made her study a reality.

It’s a long way from travelling the highways of Australia with her parents Richard and Venessa. “My parents bought a bus and renovated it,” she said. “We were meant to travel for two years but that turned into seven from when I was three years old.

“We went to every state except Tasmania and the ACT, so I got to see a lot of Australia. We spent a lot of time in Western Australia as Mum and Dad stopped along the way for jobs.”

The family returned to Warrnambool when Anastasia was 10, and later moved to nearby Allansford. Her parents have recently returned to live in Perth.

Anastasia attended Emmanuel College in Warrnambool where she was able to study agriculture, including work experience on a dairy farm.

The gap year experience on her uncle Eugene’s farm gave Anastasia the experience and motivation to pursue further study in the field.

“I really liked the physical work, which is something I’ve always enjoyed, and I love working with cows,” she said. “The early mornings weren’t too bad – I only had to get up at 4.30am so I couldn’t complain about that.”

Anastasia originally planned to study animal production at Charles Sturt University in Wagga but decided to look at different options. “Longerenong was a bit more hands-on and because it’s an ag college, everyone is here for the same reason,” she said.

Anastasia started the two-year course in February this year and says it is living up to expectations.

“It’s really good and I love the hands-on stuff,” she said. “It’s very agronomy-based but we do lots of different things – some I already knew about but other things were completely new to me, like shearing and welding.”

Anastasia admits she probably wouldn’t be doing the course if not for the scholarship.

“I applied for it straight out of Year 12 but I didn’t really have the experience, so having the gap year was the best thing I did because it gave me the experience that I needed and that Gardiner was looking for,” she said,

“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the Gardiner scholarship so it’s really special. I’m sure my parents would have helped, but I don’t think I could have afforded to go without the scholarship. It made it a whole lot easier for everybody.”

The scholarship offers up to $10,000 for each year of study.

After studying, Anastasia will consider various options for her “ideal career” and she hopes to experience working in agriculture in different parts of the world.

She will also look at studying a Bachelor of Agricultural Science by correspondence. “I’ve already done the hands-on work so I could be working in the industry while still continuing to study,” she said.

Although she has no set plans, Anastasia is interested in possible careers in stock agency, nutrition or embryo transfer.

“I definitely want to work in the dairy industry because I like working with cows, but I think I’d be happier to work on a farm rather than own one so I could still have the occasional holiday.”

Applications for Gardiner Foundation Tertiary Scholarship are now open. To be eligible, students must start their first year of full-time tertiary study in 2023 and need to relocate from home due to study commitments.

Further information and application forms are available at:

Completed applications must be submitted to