ONE of the more rewarding sessions at last week’s South East Premium Wheat Growers’ Association (SEPWA) Harvest Review was the announcement of the Rob Ashman Memorial Scholarship winners for 2019.
The scholarship is about capacity building in agriculture and targets young people who are passionate about agriculture, with a keen interest in the future of the industry and who are ready to expand their networks and learn new skills.
The scholarship was named in honour of Rob Ashman who sadly took his life in 2015 after suffering from depression for many years.
Mr Ashman managed properties for Hassad Australia in the Esperance region and was also an active member of SEPWA.
This scholarship had originally been developed by Hassad Australia and SEPWA to support the next generation of agricultural leaders who will take up the challenge of farming for the future.
Where there used to be only one scholarship awarded, that changed last year with three young people now provided with scholarships due to a record numbers of applicants being received.
Farm & General came on board as sponsors last year to enable the extra scholarships to be provided, joining forces with Viridis Ag, which was also a new sponsor after buying properties formerly owned by Hassad Australia.
This year’s recipients were Inaya Stone, Esperance, Riley Curnow, Esperance and Sophie Daw, Ravensthorpe.
Ms Stone was the only recipient able to make the SEPWA Harvest Review and she said it was a great honour to receive the scholarship.
“I had met Rob before his unfortunate passing and he was a great advocate for young people in agriculture,” Ms Stone said.
“This scholarship will make a big difference to my studies.”
Ms Stone is studying a Bachelor of Agriculture online, through the University of New England, New South Wales, while also working on farms around Esperance.
“I grew up on a farm and have always wanted to be involved in the agricultural industry,” she said.
“Studying online enables me to still work in the industry and also implement what I am learning at university in my day job.
“It is a good time to be in agriculture in the Esperance region and there are a lot of young people involved at the moment down here.”
Ms Stone said she was hoping to become an agronomist when she finishes her study.
Viridis Ag human resources manager Simon Habgood said the company was happy to continue to support the scholarship as one of the key elements to their business was sustainability.
“Investing in local careers for local people is important to us,” Mr Habgood said.
“We want to continue to prime our talent pipeline to get people through the system and hopefully one day they will come back and work for us.”
Farm & General general manager Greg Prosser said his company came on board because the scholarship was one way of attracting more young people to stay in agriculture.
“It is great that there has been an increase in applicants for the scholarship, which allowed us to contribute in some way,” Mr Prosser said.
“If we can encourage young people to get into agriculture then we will do what we can.
“There are not enough young people studying agriculture at the moment and it is something we all need to get behind.”