HOPING to give the next generation of students a head start in agriculture, the Blomfield and Falkiner families from central New South Wales have started a private scholarship for motivated youngsters.
They are wanting to give what "we all wish we had access to," said scholarship founder and farmer Charlie Blomfield.
Inspired by an idea by farmhand Aaron Bartimote, the two families began looking into the corporate scholarships into agriculture - only to be thoroughly disappointed.
"They really tell you what to do, rather than focusing on the person and finding out what they want to do," Mr Blomfield said.
Instead, the families wanted a "ground up" approach - focusing more on the individual person and their specific farming interests.
By combining the two farms, the successful applicant of the Leg Up for Ag scholarship will receive experience in a variety of different areas, and the opportunity to specialise in their chosen field.
"During their study time, we give them paid work placements during their holidays, and develop a program for them based on their interests, to put them through a livestock focused course or cropping focused or irrigation, if they're into cotton," Mr Blomfield said.
He also wanted to put an emphasis on family farming, which not everyone gets access to, in order to not lose quality workers to the commercial sector.
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"We're trying to open the gate and show people what family farming businesses are all about, and give people opportunities to work within those," Mr Blomfield said.
"I think a lot of young people don't think there's many opportunities in the private sector, so they go into the corporate sector instead."
Along with work placements throughout a student's studies, the scholarship includes mentorship and $10,000 funding - $5,000 in the first year and $5,000 in the last year.
During the scholarship, Mr Blomfield said the successful applicant will develop a range of different networks enabling them to enter the agricultural industry after graduation with full confidence.
"At the end of the program, we do a more formal graduate program for a year full time work, which will give them a range of projects to work on and then at the end of it, that'd be a really skilled person," he said.
So far a range of different people have applied, including those from pre-existing farming backgrounds and from metropolitan suburbs.
"A few people from the city have applied, which is great, because they don't have the skills or the networks to get into it, so sometimes they get overlooked," Mr Blomfield said.
Applicants are welcome from all across Australia, and Mr Blomfield said he was particularly keen to get some interest from Western Australian students.
"We're hoping we can tap into the West as well, because I think there's really good expertise over in the West, particularly in the growing farming and sheep industries.
"We'd love it if we could get different people."
Applications close next Friday, January 27.
For more information about the scholarship: https://www.legupforag.com.au/
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