Moving 700 kilometres from Woolsthorpe to Wagga Wagga has been like moving to another planet for dairy farmer Matthew Roache.
With support from a Gardiner Dairy Foundation tertiary scholarship, Matthew is in the third year of his Bachelor of Agriculture and plans to continue next year to complete his Bachelor of Agricultural Science at Charles Sturt University.
The Gardiner Dairy Foundation has opened applications for its 2020 tertiary scholarships, with seven scholars to receive $10,000 annually over three years to contribute towards costs associated with their studies.
For Matthew the course has opened his eyes to a potential career in agronomy and living in Wagga Wagga has opened his eyes to how many farmers are struggling.
After completing his studies, Matthew hopes to return to south-west Victoria where he grew up on a family dairy farm at Woolsthorpe.
“I want to return home and work in dairy,” he said. “It’s very dry up here. It’s awful when you tell mates that we’ve had a bit of flash flooding back home.
“Something I’ve come to appreciate here is that if you want to make a change in cropping it takes weeks, but with dairy you can change something in two days and make a measurable difference that you see in the fat and litres.
“I still get the milk results sent to my phone and talk about them with dad.”
The Woolsthorpe farm has been in the family since 1929. Matt’s parents Linda and Noel currently milk about 350 Friesian cows and they have a small side operation with 200 sheep.
Matthew, 23, worked on the farm for two years after school but found he was restless and wanted to try something new.
“It’s a big leap to go so far away from home, but once you’re here it’s worth it. Initially, I never wanted to go to uni. The first year on the farm was great but the second year a lot of my mates had moved away and I needed to do something new.
“This is a great way to do something positive for your future and make friends for life. The year off makes you hungrier to go and do something positive.”
Matthew said he couldn’t have made the transition or continue to a fourth year of study without the Gardiner Dairy Foundation scholarship.
“The scholarship really helped because I’m so far away,” Matthew said. “The first two years I lived on campus, which was a big help because you stay in the loop and it’s great to have people nearby to help. Without the scholarship I wouldn’t have been able to stay on campus and get home on holidays.”
Matthew has done casual work in bars and on farms but because of the scholarship hasn’t had to commit to a permanent job.
“To support themselves, other students have to have consistent work which means they can’t go home for holidays or they might be working the night before an exam. I don’t have that sort of pressure which makes it so much easier. I can be more flexible in my jobs. It doesn’t mean you do nothing, but it means you can focus more on your studies and that will help in the long term.”
The support has prompted Matthew to plan another year of study.
“Doing a fourth year will create more job opportunities,” he said. “It’s mainly a placement year which will be a great way to get some experience and try a few jobs and see where I best fit in.”
During the course Matthew had developed a strong interest in pasture and crop agronomy. “Ideally after the course I’d like to be back home working in agronomy with a few pasture clients and a few cropping clients,” he said.
The Gardiner Dairy Foundation will award seven Tertiary Scholarships to students from Victorian dairy regions who are commencing study in 2020.
The scholarships are named in recognition of the contribution to the dairy industry by Shirley Harlock, Jakob Malmo, Bill Pyle, Doug Weir and the late Niel Black.
Gardiner Dairy Foundation Chief Executive Officer, Dr Clive Noble, said the tertiary scholarships are awarded to students who have been accepted into a course that will benefit the Victorian dairy industry or dairy communities. The program aims to encourage students to return to the dairy industry on graduating and to contribute positively through the skills they have gained.
Dr Noble said a diverse range of skills are needed to ensure the Victorian dairy industry and dairy communities are resilient and adaptable.
“Dairy communities need high level skills in all areas of dairying as well as in essential areas such as health, education and finance. However, there is a huge cost for students associated with relocating to undertake the higher education and training required to develop these skills.”
For more information please go to: https://www.gardinerfoundation.com.au/people-community/#tert or email Richard Meredith: email@example.com