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Rebecca Wyper's success story

Rebecca is passionate about dairy – she has gained industry support to grow her passion into a successful career via a Charles Sturt industry placement program during her fourth year of a Bachelor of Agriculture Science degree.

Through Charles Sturt University’s (CSU) industry placement program, the twenty-five-year-old has been working full time with the Murray Dairy team, learning industry and business skills first hand.

“I’ve been spending quite a bit of time with everyone in the office and I’m really enjoying it. I’ve learnt a lot and it has exposed me to opportunities that are in the industry which I didn’t know about before working here.”

Rebecca grew up on a beef farm in Picton. When her mother started share farming on a dairy, Rebecca would help after school and on weekends.

Rebecca studied agriculture at Tocal College and worked in the beef industry for a few years, before moving and working on a dairy farm on the NSW Mid-North Coast. She managed the calf shed and then became herd manager of the 1000-cow dairy. In 2014 she moved to Wagga Wagga to study a Bachelor of Agriculture Science at CSU.

Now a fourth year student, Rebecca is completing the University’s industry placement program. Scott Glyde, who convenes the CSU program, has seen the popularity of the program grow – in 2011, three students participated in the program’s first year. This year, 33 students will complete the program.

“Students can finish after three years with a Bachelor of Agriculture or they can do a fourth year and get a Bachelor of Agriculture Science – the fourth year is about gaining industry skills,” Scott said.

Prior to starting the industry placement program, students must complete a six-week intensive block at CSU, where Scott prepares them for work placement. Each student completes a CV and mock job application. During this process, a student’s technical weaknesses are identified, and they must focus on strengthening those skills during their industry placement.

Rebecca is completing the industry placement program with mentor and Murray Dairy Accelerating Change project manager, Amy Fay (pictured on the left above with Rebecca).

“What I’m really looking for is a good mentor and an opportunity for the student to be exposed to networks. In Rebecca’s case, she was sort of sure what she wanted to do as a career, but needed to be exposed to options,” Scott said.

“Amy can introduce Rebecca to people who she’s never met and to programs that she didn’t know existed. Amy can also open Rebecca’s eyes to all the different options that are available, which will allow her to think more clearly about what she wants to do.”

Amy Fay said that Murray Dairy was keen to support the program because attracting people into the service industry is vital the for the industry’s ongoing growth and profitability.

“I think there’s a gap in professional development and opportunities to develop capability in the service industry,” Amy said. “We need excellent people who are doing great things in the service industry to support farmers … and we want share what we have learnt about what makes better extension delivery education and engagement with farmers.”

While at Murray Dairy, Rebecca has been leading her own project which has seen her interviewing farmers in the region about how they make decisions regarding their genetics strategy. She aims to identify the drivers of farmer decision making and where their information comes from – her findings will help to inform Murray Dairy programs.

Rebecca will also work alongside Amy, to help deliver Murray Dairy’s Accelerating Change project.

“Part of our focus at Murray Dairy, and through the Accelerating Change project, is to identify how we can use the service sector more effectively,” Amy said. “This includes how we can support the service sector to build their capabilities so they are delivering the best information on farm; and then how to attract and retain the best service providers for our industry.”

“Having Rebecca at Murray Dairy is just another way that we’re trying to support the service industry.”

With six weeks remaining of the industry placement program, Rebecca is enjoying learning and working with farmers in the region. When she finishes her CSU degree, she is considering a career in animal nutrition or an extension services role.

“It has definitely been worth while and other people should take the opportunity if they can,” Rebecca said. “It’s opened a door for me to learn so much!”

Read more about the Bachelor of Agriculture Science at Charles Sturt University and Murray Dairy’s Accelerating Change program.

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