Helping hand for Ashtyn

TASMANIAN student Ashtyn Willey is among 12 people to receive a scholarship to support her studies in agricultural science.

Ashtyn, from Eaglehawk Neck on the Tasman Peninsula, is studying a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at the University of Tasmania.

She plans to complete the four-year degree with a double major in Sustainable Agriculture and Crop and Plant Science. “I have a strong interest in soil science and agronomy, so plan to take on a career as an agronomist in Tasmania,” Ashtyn said.

“However, I plan to keep my options open throughout the degree as there are so many career pathways it could take me on. “I am also quite interested in regenerative farming and would potentially like to incorporate that into my future career.

“I plan to work in the industry while doing my degree to get some first-hand experience and apply some of the concepts I am learning at university.”

Rural Bank provides first-year students with $5000 to aid the transition to tertiary study, and to help them thrive in their chosen field.

Ashtyn hopes it will support her tertiary studies after some challenging period during her schooling. “Living in a rural area has thrown many challenges my way,” she said.

“I attended a small local primary school and high school. My primary school was burnt down in the Dunalley bushfires, forcing them to rebuild and greatly disrupting my learning.

“I went to the local public high school a few years later, I felt as though not many opportunities were provided to us in comparison to schools situated in town.

“They also had trouble finding good, reliable teaching staff, which left us often wasting our learning time.

“After Year 10 I was the first person in my family to attend college for Year 11 and 12. I travelled three hours each day to get to college, which I found hard as it took up a large amount of my study time.”

Despite the challenges, Ashtyn already has a string of achievements to add to her scholarship success. This includes the Tasman Rural Youth Secretary Bronze, Duke of Edinburgh Award Silver and Duke of Edinburgh Award Certificate of excellence in Titration.

Rural Bank Head of Sales Andrew Smith said the quality of applicants this year was outstanding and as a result, Rural Bank decided to award a total of 12 scholarships instead of the 11 announced last year.

“Pleasingly, 70 per cent of applications were from young women who, in a first for the program, comprised 83 per cent of our successful applicants,” Mr Smith said.

“Our scholarship recipients will be studying agribusiness, veterinary and agricultural science and agriculture and resource economics at universities in Armidale, Wagga Wagga, Bundaberg, Bundoora, Adelaide, Perth and Hobart and at Agricultural colleges such as Tocal in the NSW Hunter Valley and Longerenong in Victoria.

“For many students from rural and regional Australia, pursuing a career in agribusiness comes with additional costs and distance can be a significant factor when choosing to access further education.”

The scholarships are valued at $5000 per year and can be extended for a second year of study to support students’ study-related expenses.