Hannah Thorson has gone to the city to learn more about agriculture but her heart remains in Gippsland.
Thanks to receiving Gardiner Dairy Foundation's 2017 Bill Pyle Tertiary Scholarship to support her Bachelor of Agricultural Science study at La Trobe University, Hannah has been able to bring her new knowledge back to the farm during her course.
"Some subjects have been harder, some I've enjoyed more; but there's been heaps I found I could apply on the farm," Hannah said.
"For example, last year I learnt about pests in crops so I was able to go home and look at the turnip crop, find the pests and do something about them."
Gardiner Dairy Foundation is now taking applications for its 2020 tertiary scholarships, with seven scholars to receive $10,000 annually for up to three years to contribute towards costs associated with their studies. Applications close on November 24.
Hannah, from Dumbalk in South Gippsland, is nearing the end of her three-year course and says the scholarship helped her to keep in touch with home.
"It meant I didn't have to get a job in Melbourne so I could concentrate on my studies and I've been able to go home virtually every weekend and work and see my family," she said.
"It's a very generous scholarship so it was good to study without stressing about money. It was also a great help for my parents, Tanya and Fizz. Without it, they would have had to help a lot more, so they've been very grateful as well."
Hannah says she enjoys Melbourne, particularly meeting new friends and the food options, "but the fact I've been going home pretty much every weekend has helped. If I was here for weeks and weeks on end I would struggle. The country is where I want to be.
"I love going home."
Hannah will graduate in December and plans to spend the next few months at home, working on the farm where the family milks about 350 mainly Friesian cows, with some Jersey crosses, and continuing the casual job she's been doing for more than five years at the MG Trading Store in Dumbalk.
"After that I'm not sure; I've been changing my mind a bit," she said. "I'm interested in agronomy jobs but I want to work around Gippsland if I can; I don't want to move too far from home."
Whatever the eventual outcome, agriculture and particularly dairy farming remain at the core of Hannah's ambitions.
"My interests have always been in agriculture," she said. "I enjoy being on the farm and also enjoy my job in the store because I get along well with farmers and enjoy selling agricultural products.
"I always knew I didn't want a job in the office, I wanted to be outside with an agricultural connection and I still love dairy; I love the animals and the fresh air."
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 contributions 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 were awarded to students who had been accepted into a course that would benefit the Victorian dairy industry or dairy communities.
The program aimed to encourage students to return to their dairy communities on graduating and to contribute positively through the skills they gained.
Dr Noble said a diverse range of skills were needed to ensure the Victorian dairy industry and dairy communities were 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: firstname.lastname@example.org