UNE students, Sophia Thatcher and Emma Rice, have been announced as recipients of the AgriFutures Australia 2019 Horizon Scholarship.
The scholarship provides $10,000 over two years to assist with study and living expenses for the final two years of the students’ agricultural related degree. On top of the bursary, students also receive professional development workshops and work placements to kick start their career in agriculture, access to industry leaders, and opportunities to network and gain knowledge at a range of industry events.
Like many other young girls, Sophia who grew up on small cattle producing farm outside of Armidale, has always been passionate about horses.
“Whilst attending school at PLC, I was given the incredible opportunity to learn how to ride racehorses at Selby Racing Stables. After school, I travelled to the UK to work at an eventing stable, however I realised while I was there that my true passion was in the racing industry,” Sophia said.
Upon returning to Australia Sophia enrolled in a tertiary degree and returned to work at the Racing Stables. She qualified as a Picnic Jockey in her first year and rode at two meetings before qualifying as an Apprentice Jockey, which enabled her to ride in professional race meetings.
“Although I loved being a jockey, I was unable able to maintain the low weight requirements which were negatively impacting my health, and so I decided to focus solely on university instead.”
Sophia is currently in her third year of a Bachelor of Business with a major in Agribusiness, and says she is extremely grateful to AgriFutures Australia for granting her the scholarship. “It is a once in a lifetime, invaluable opportunity for which I am sincerely thankful.”
Fellow scholarship recipient, Emma Rice, grew up on a mixed livestock and cropping property outside of Parkes in Central West NSW and is in her third year of studying a Bachelor of Agriculture.
“Growing up in a rural farming community has shaped the individual I am, and thus I have continued my tertiary education in agriculture at a rural university,” Emma said.
“I am excited by the challenges and opportunities within the agriculture industry. The environment and our society is continually evolving around us, and I believe alongside of this agriculture must evolve too.”
Emma is very familiar with drought conditions as her her family has either been managing their land through drought or in the multifaceted process of recovering from prolonged drought times.
She firmly believes that for the continuation and success of entities at the mercy of climatic events, the industry must not only be supportive but proactive and adaptive.
“I am driven to be part of the generation driving this front of innovation and I am passionate about establishing others appreciation for agriculture. As a young person entering the agriculture industry, the value of being involved in programs such as AgriFutures is becoming increasingly evident.”