Elders recruits graduate agronomists
Three graduate agronomists begin their professional careers at Elders this month as part of the company’s focus on developing its people.
Diana George from Nevertire, NSW, Nicholas Hunt from Macksville, NSW, and Cameron Prien, from Riverside, Tasmania, were selected for the two-year training program at Elders from more than 60 applications world-wide.
Ms George started work at Elders Gatton this week, while Mr Hunt headed west to Elders Geraldton and Mr Prien began at Elders Bendigo.
Over the next two years, they will work under the supervision of Elders senior agronomists around Australia to develop the skills needed to provide broadacre and horticultural growers with the latest advice in farm technology.
Elders’ latest recruits were welcomed by Mark Allison, Elders Chief Executive Officer, and Graham Page, National Agronomy Technical Services Manager, as well as other senior staff at the Adelaide office last week.
Mr Page said the graduate agronomy program was unique to Elders.
“Our senior agronomists designed this program to give talented young graduates like Diana, Nick and Cameron the opportunity to work in different regions and sectors of agriculture in Australia under local supervision over the next two years,” Mr Page said.
“It is not only an investment in our people, but a long-term investment in our clients and Australian agriculture.”
All three recruits combine formal qualifications in agriculture with plenty of ‘hands on’ experience from working on their family farms or farm enterprises elsewhere.
New agronomist in Gatton
Diana George begins her agronomy career with a six-month post at Elders Gatton to increase her knowledge of horticulture under the guidance of Senior Agronomist, Jason Blackwood, before she moves to Elders Dalby for a further six months of intensive training in broadacre agronomy.
Ms George comes to Gatton from her family’s mixed farming property at ‘Forest Grove’, Nevertire, in northern New South Wales.
“My father, Trevor, was lucky enough to have two daughters, so my sister and I were well trained in all sorts of farm work including driving the header, operating the chaser bin, working with our cattle and Dorper sheep,” she said.
“We also run a contract harvesting business called TJ & Daughters.”
Ms George has a Bachelor of Agriculture degree from the University of New England, heightening her passion for commercial cattle and broadacre cropping.
Ms George has taken out numerous awards, the latest being a Royal Agricultural Show Rural Achiever award which will give her the opportunity to learn a lot more about the show circuit at this year’s Royal Easter Show in Sydney.
From cattle to cropping
Nicholas Hunt grew up handling Hereford cattle on his family’s Macksville property in New South Wales.
After finishing high school, Mr Hunt headed off to the University of New England in 2009, specialising in agronomy and animal production in his Rural Science degree and building a career in agriculture.
During university holidays, he picked watermelons, helped train working kelpies and marked lambs.
On graduating in 2012, Mr Hunt wanted to bolster his experience in broadacre cropping, so he went to Moree to work on a large irrigated cotton enterprise owned by Australian Food and Fibre Ltd for five months.
Later in 2013, he worked at Auscott’s ‘Namoi Valley’ property outside Narrabri, doing everything from operating the lateral irrigators and driving tractors to bug checking 2,000 hectares of cotton, fruit counting and monitoring Heliothis light traps.
That same resourcefulness will prove invaluable as Mr Hunt takes up his new role with Elders at Geraldton and Northampton, followed by Bunbury later this year.
While WA cropping practices are different from those of north-western New South Wales, Mr Hunt is looking forward to training under the supervision of Peter Elliott-Lockhart, Elders Senior Agronomist at Geraldton.
“I may be looking to train a few of the locals in rugby union, but it’s an honour to join a national company like Elders and look forward to building a bright future with them,” Mr Hunt said.
Dairy experience leads to agricultural career
In Victoria, Cameron Prien starts his career at Elders Bendigo under the supervision of Senior Agronomist, Craig Sharam, before heading to the Roseworthy branch in six months’ time.
While his family runs Belted Galloway cattle on their hobby farm near Launceston, Mr Prien’s interest in an agricultural career was kindled when he worked on his uncle’s dairy farm in north-west Tasmania after high school.
He switched campuses and courses, leaving journalism behind for agricultural science at Charles Sturt University from 2011 to 2014, learning more about broadacre cropping and harvesting on farms around Wagga Wagga and the Riverina during university breaks.
Mr Prien also worked in weed resistance research and with Southern Farming Systems in Victoria.
“After growing up and working on farms, agriculture, agronomy and teamwork are passions of mine,” he said.