Hi all! My name is Ashlee Hammond and I am currently in my third year of a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at LaTrobe University, Bundoora. I love everything about Agriculture and it is definitely the career pathway for me!
I was born in Warrnambool and have moved quite a few times since as my parents’ share-farmed dairy farms throughout central and northern Victoria. My parents bought a dairy farm just south of Kerang in north western Victoria and even though my family sold the farm, I have called Kerang home ever since.
I have always loved the rural lifestyle and can’t remember ever being jealous of my friends who got to ‘walk down the street’ every day after school, but who had never ridden a motorbike!
My passion for a career in agriculture started when I was in Year 10 at school and started my VET Certificate II in Agriculture. Through this two year course, I learnt how to show and judge beef cattle, which I absolutely love!
I am so passionate about showing and now, judging beef cattle that I started my Silver Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and based all the components possible around agriculture. I played netball for the sport component, but my community service, skill and adventurous journey were all based on agriculture. For the community service and skill component combined I compiled a book called ‘Around the Ring’. This was a 120 page compilation of 28 beef cattle judges from Australia, England, Ireland, Canada and the USA that asked them two questions, ‘What is your ring craft routine?’ and ‘What are your golden rules of communication?’. The book was a lot of work and took over 18 months to complete, but was well worth it! There is now a copy at the National and State library, as well as my local library! It feels surreal having my name on a book in the library at home!
Me at the Royal Melbourne Show 2010 where ‘Around the Ring’ was published.
I finished my VCE in 2010 and then decided to study agriculture even further! I am now completing my final year of a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at LaTrobe University, Bundoora. This is an amazing degree and I love all my subjects, even ‘dirt’ (soil science). University is quite expensive, so I am extremely lucky to have some help from the Horizon Scholarship, under the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation. This amazing scholarship not only gives me a lump sum at the start of each year for my studies, but also allows me to spend three days a year in Canberra with the other scholars and to complete industry work placement for two weeks per year, all paid for! This work placement counts toward my compulsory work placement for my course too, which is a great help!
Uni life is good fun! The 2012 Ag Games team!
I have tried to stay heavily involved in agriculture in a hands on way throughout my tertiary education because I know people living in the city can become separated from the country life. I have now completed work placements at dairy farms, piggeries and even a chicken farm to gain as much diverse industry experience as I can. I have also been showing cattle at the Royal Melbourne Show each year, which is something I love doing and plan to do again this year!
Whilst at the Royal Melbourne Show I have been able to talk to the general public about agriculture and where they think their food comes from. This has lead me to become very passionate about agriculture being embedded in the national curriculum so students all over Australia will not only know where their food comes from as well as the challenges and constraints our farmers face to ensure the highest quality affordable food comes to your table. plan to stay on at University for another year and do my Honours project, then graduate and begin working in an area I’m passionate in!
2012 was an exciting year for me. Firstly I applied for and was selected to on the ‘Young Agribusiness Professionals’ committee which is under the Victorian Farmers Federation and involves hosting events in your local area to ensure young, rural people get their say in agriculture. This has been a great committee to be a part of and I plan to stay on it for a few years to come!
Secondly I was selected to attend Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Youth Ag Think Tank which brought together 30 young Australians with an interest or experience in agriculture to explore ideas aimed at encouraging more young Australians to become involved in this industry.
The Think Tank helped raise awareness and celebrate the range of career opportunities available to young people in agriculture.
Me with fellow participant and team member Stephanie Coombes
Participants also developed ideas and strategies to attract and retain more young people working in the industry.Aged from 18-35 years, the diversity of their backgrounds and experiences meant 30 participants views and opinions shared were realistic and practical.The Ag Youth Think Tank concluded with participants presenting their strategies to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, the Parliamentary Secretary, key stakeholders and senior public servants.
Our group’s theme was “Agricultural education and careers”. Our aim was to come up with fresh and innovative ideas that we could pitch to senior government influencers and industry stakeholders. It was a great honour to be able to present on behalf of our team
Another big highlight for me in 2012 was being awarded one of the positions as a ‘Heywire Winner’. You can read my story here Part of winning meant I got to spend a week in February this year with 32 rural, passionate people who had great stories to tell!
Throughout the week we were split into groups with each group to pitch an idea about an issue at Parliament House.
The groups were drink driving, body image, mental health, opportunities in rural and regional areas, marriage equality and, our group, valuing our food producers. Our groups idea was to have the farm-gate prices that primary producers get paid on the shelf price tag next to what the supermarkets are charging. This would hopefully inspire consumers to buy more Australian produce and, hopefully in the future, increase the price that primary producers are being paid.
Accepting my award from Hon Senator Joe Ludwig
We were very lucky to get lots of media support for our idea and they certainly resonated with the politicians we were honoured to pitch it too
I love everything about agriculture and can’t wait to graduate and help raise awareness and appreciation amongst people all over Australia about where their food and fibre comes from. Agriculture is an integral part of life and I know that awareness raising campaigns and embedding agriculture in the curriculum can help people understand the commitment that goes into producing our food and the complex supply chain that puts milk in the cartoon and the steak on our plates!