Meet Rebecca Thistlewaite who says Young people join me we are the exciting future of Agriculture!

Todays guest blog comes from Rebecca Thistlethwaite a girl from The Shire who found here way into agriculture when her parents bought a small farm. Rebecca is now a PhD student and an agronomist with a particular interest in plant breeding and genetics

This is Rebecca’s story ……………………….

My name is Rebecca Thistlethwaite and I grew up in the Sutherland Shire south of Sydney and completed my schooling at Kirrawee High School. Growing up I was a typical ‘Shire’ girl with a love of the surf, sun and sand

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North Cronulla Beach

When I was 13 years old my parents bought a small property in the Southern Highlands of NSW. This was the beginning of a whole new world of exciting experiences for me!

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The family farm then became my second home. I couldn’t wait to spend all of my holidays and weekends in a place that made me feel so free. It became the place I felt most comfortable and as time went on I was able to introduce the land to my friends.

My parents ran a small cattle herd as we weren’t able to live there full time so on weekends there was a lot of work to be done. Working in the cattle yards teaching a group of teenage city girls like me was always very rewarding for mum and dad. They they knew like me that every young person has the potential to make change and are only limited by knowledge that they attain. So we would go about explaining every aspect of what was involved in the running a commercial cattle farm.

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Grazing Angus cattle on family farm

As well as farm work I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to learn how to exhibit cattle with the help of some very generous local Angus breeders.

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Angus Youth Round-Up, Glenn Innes 2010

From here it was clear which direction my career path would take me. I enrolled in a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture at the University of Sydney. Unlike a lot of my school friends my path through uni was slightly different but extremely exciting. The decision to develop a career in the Agricultural Industry was discussed my decision at length with my parents and every conversation would lead back to my future in the agricultural industry. I believe young person should have a career that is rewarding and fun gives back to society in the best way possible.

At university I became an agriculture ambassador travelling around to schools all over Sydney carrying out workshops related to agriculture and that gave me a unique insight into how primary school kids saw where their food and fibre comes from. I was so inspired by the program and how much it did for these kids that I started to go to the schools around my home doing a similar thing.

I wholeheartedly believe that the future of agriculture depends on attracting young talented people and helping them realise what a modern, exciting and challenging career it is and this is what drives me in both my working and home life to do as much as I can to promote positive images of the industry.

I graduated in 2011 with honours and although Uni was hard at times it was well worth it in the end.

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Graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (Hons) from the University of Sydney, 2011

My first job as a graduate was for a pasture seed company as a Research Agronomist

A research agronomist may work with companies or government agencies on plant hybridization and soil conservation as well as the areas mentioned above. Agronomists who specialize in research might work to figure out which plants can be used as fuel, such as the discovery that corn can be used to fuel vehicles, or which plants might make effective pharmaceuticals For more information click here

My new job meant relocating to Armidale in Northern NSW and I loved it . The people are so friendly and not only this I was able to experience different ways of farming across a broad range of fields.

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Sheep farming

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Alpaca farming

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Tomato farming in glasshouse

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Pasture cropping for silage (winter feed)

My job kept me incredibly busy. I travelled 75,000kms by car in my first year across NSW and QLD, flew interstate countless times and I was lucky enough to travel to 2 different countries as well.

One of the best parts about the Agricultural Industry is that new opportunities arise every day, especially for young people! I have a passion for research in the areas of climate change and heat tolerance in plants.

Did you know that wheat is the staple food of almost half the world’s population and approximately 30,000 farmers grow wheat in Australia? Its no wonder I saw this as a  fast-moving field I wanted to get involved in as soon as I could.

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Wheat production, Narrabri

In 2013, I was lucky enough to receive a Grains Research and Development Postgraduate Scholarship to study plant breeding and genetics at the University of Sydney. I jumped at the opportunity to study something I love and haven’t looked back! I now live in Narrabri in Northern NSW and all my field work is based at the I.A. Watson Grains Research Centre there.

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I.A. Watson Grains Research Centre, Narrabri

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The team at the I. A. Watson Grains Research Centre outside their newly built facility

As a city kid  who now loves the bush I strongly encourage all young people, who haven’t done so already, to go and experience what it is like to spend a day on a farm.

If you have already had the pleasure then you know exactly what I mean when I say that it is one of the most rewarding experiences that you could have.

Now all you have to do is take next step and follow me into an agricultural career and share your story

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