First year Bachelor of Agricultural Sciences student Jana Dixon is the proud recipient of three prestigious scholarships to support young people who are passionate about agriculture. In the past few months she has been awarded the Lois Harris Scholarship by the Agricultural Bureau of SA, the Playford Trust Regional Science and Engineering Scholarship, and an RIRDC Horizon Scholarship supported by GRDC.
On completion of Year 12 at Clare High School, Jana received an outstanding ATAR result of 99.15. She said the scholarships have greatly assisted her transition from the family farm to University life, both in an economic sense and by providing professional development and mentoring opportunities.
Jana’s keen interest in a career in Agriculture began on the family farm in the Clare Valley. “It is mostly cereal cropping with some sheep over summer,” she said. A strong connection to the farm meant a career in agriculture was a likely path.
In 2013, Jana was one of 100 students selected from around Australia to attend the University of New England’s (UNE) Generation2050: Project Feed the World conference in Armidale, NSW. Generation2050 involved local farm visits and practical activities at UNE related to agronomy, animal science and agribusiness. This event led to Jana being selected to spend a week with an agronomist at UNE at the end of 2014, visiting local properties and advising farmers about pastures and livestock.
“It was a great experience and made me realise just how different farming areas and systems are in different parts of Australia,” Jana said. “My eyes were set on being an agronomist after that – I loved it!”
When considering university, Jana sought the advice of a local agronomist back home about the relative benefits of studying at the University of Adelaide or UNE. She decided to stay in South Australia so she could learn more about the agricultural systems here and be closer to home.
Jana is nearing the end of her first semester at the University of Adelaide and has found the transition from high school challenging. “I’m only 17 and it was stressful and confusing at first but I’m getting used to it now”’ she said. “While I love the agriculture subjects, chemistry is the worst! I’m sure it will get better as I get further into my degree.”
Jana has strong connections in Clare and goes home every weekend to play netball and help on the family farm. “Going home is always good, even though Dad saves up all the worst farm jobs for me,” she said.
She said there are a lot of familiar faces from high school studying at Waite and she is also on the Adelaide University Agriculture Students Association (AUASA) Committee as one of two first year representatives. “It has been fun to interact with students in the other year levels through the AUASA and the social events are really good,” she said. “You want to have friends and connections as well as a degree when you finish university and being involved with the Association will help that”.
Post-university, Jana is still focused on a career as an Agronomist or Agricultural Consultant. “I’d like to be able to share knowledge and help improve all aspects of a client’s production and business – including farming systems, new technologies and succession planning.”
She also encourages other young people to consider further study and careers in agriculture but acknowledges that outdated stereotypes of agriculture may be a barrier. “Unfortunately a lot of people don’t realise the impact and opportunities agriculture can offer if they don’t have a direct link to a farm”
“Agriculture is so important! It impacts so many aspects of everyday life and there are so many career options. It is so much more than just farming!”