New graduates join Elders’ growing field of agronomy experts
For the third consecutive year, Elders have introduced more young talent into their Graduate Agronomy Program, giving new graduates on-the-ground experience and a high level of practical training across modern agronomy practice.
The Elders Graduate Agronomy Program gives the brightest agronomy new-starters from around the country the opportunity to work across Australia with training from senior experts. The program has produced a number of high performing agronomists who have gone on to secure full time positions and secure themselves as knowledgeable resources for their growing client bases.
Elders Technical Services Manager Graham Page says the graduate program is unique to the industry because it is specifically tailored to ensure a high level of mentoring across a number of locations to expose participants to different climates, growing conditions, and clients.
“The real strength of our graduate program lies in the fact that our graduates are given personalised assistance to grow the skills they need according to their existing knowledge and competencies,” says Mr Page.
“Rather than throw them in the deep end in sales, we train them closely, let them witness our teams in action, and ensure we expose them to the way we conduct business in a client-focused way, aiming to develop long-term sustainable farming practices,” he says.
Joshua Squibb, now working for Elders Kalbar after completing his agronomist graduate training, says his time within the program gave him the opportunity to focus on his professional development in a structured way, whilst building relationships with experienced agronomists and contacts throughout the broader industry.
“The Elders Graduate Program has allowed me to combine the theory and concepts of formal university study with the practical, hands-on, real-life experiences of commercial agriculture. Through the Grad Program, you are able to develop an understanding of how products work in the real world, as compared to how they work in a laboratory or textbook sense,” says Mr Squibb.
“Whilst they work similarly in both situations, you are able to pick up subtle differences in the field, and by discussing the results with clients and other industry experts, this can validate what you’re seeing,” he says.
“The Graduate Program has also allowed me to develop my communication, relationship building, and sales skills, all of which are important for a successful sales and production agronomist.”
Mr Squibb also mentions a major benefit of the program is being part of the “pink-shirt” network.
“Elders as a company has developed a strong team-oriented environment nationally over a long period of time. This feeling of being part of the pink shirt team allows any young agronomist (or other new-starter) the opportunity to get themselves established in a very supportive environment,” says Mr Squibb.
“The pink shirts are iconic in Australia and they stand-out whether in the paddock, at a field day, or at an industry event. Being recognised by them in association with being experts in their field helps to build confidence with the customer and encourage them to trust and value the support and advice we can offer them.”
Elders’ graduate intake for 2017 have just finished their induction to the program with thorough introductions and briefings about the company, and technical services projects taking place across the network, in preparation for their first six month stint Connor Steel, now based at Elders Roseworthy, doesn’t come from a farming background after growing up in the South eastern suburbs of Melbourne, but says his passion lies with plants, particularly in the area of sustainability.
“I found out the hard way that I didn’t enjoy working with animals, after several dissections. Once ruling out animals it wasn’t too hard to make my decision. During my career I would like to have a positive impact on the sustainability of Australian farming and developing my skills as an agronomist through the program is a key step in better understanding the trade before I try to make my impact in sustainability,” he says.
Now placed at the Elders Naracoorte branch, Kim Honey, is making the move from Northern Victoria after studying a Bachelor of Animal Science majoring in Agricultural production. Being surrounded by farming her whole life, she says she is excited to continue to learn about the industry in a structured and guided way amongst a supportive team.
“I’ve found the culture at Elders to be really welcoming. The pride in the pink shirt is evident and everyone has been really supportive towards me coming in as a graduate to learn from them,” she says.
Laura Schulz, our third graduate in the 2017 intake, described herself as obsessed with farming. Growing up in Owen, SA a small country town with a real sense of community and farming orientation, she developed a background in livestock but says that her curiosity about cropping was the real driver to get her involved in broadacre. She says that the program will help bridge the divide between knowledge from study and on the job skills.
“The graduate program is an incredible opportunity to learn about building sustainable relationships with clients, and being equipped with the best skills possible to ensure my work as an agronomist is to the highest quality.”
As the demand for technical services and technology across the industry increases, Elders intends to continue their intake of new graduate agronomists each. For more information on the graduate agronomy program see here.