Getting their degrees without having to leave their farms behind has been a game-changer for CQUniversity's newest Agriculture graduates.
South-western Victorian farmers David Mitchell and Joshua Brody both graduated with a Bachelor of Agriculture on Monday 28 March' in a ceremony at Hamilton's Rural Industries Skills Training (RIST).
Since 2016 CQUniversity and RIST have partnered to deliver local support for Bachelor of Agriculture students' providing a pathway from vocational qualifications to online university study' with some practical assessments completed at RIST.
Joshua Brody began his study journey with RIST in 2008' completing vocational training before starting the degree part-time in 2019.
"I left school at the end of year 10' and I've been working full time on sheep and cattle properties ever since – but I wanted the knowledge and training to step up into management roles'" he said.
Now a livestock overseer at Jigsaw Farms outside Hamilton' Joshua said juggling study' work and family life was "daunting at first".
"We found out my wife was pregnant with our first child just after I began the degree' and now the second is on the way – so I was pretty determined to have it finished before the baby arrived!" Josh said.
"But I wanted to study to be the best manager I could be' as well as the best provider for my family I could be."
Josh credits his wife Ebony' a local school teacher' for helping him learn university requirements for referencing' and for encouraging him through the degree.
"My employer and my supervisor also backed me' and I was able to do some of the assignments on our operations here at Jigsaw along with having the support of staff who have all helped me along the way'" he said.
Joshua hopes his studies and work experience might eventually pave the way for him to teach.
"That's a great part of my role now is being given the opportunity to speak to younger people about my experiences and the path I took to get where I am today'" he explained.
"It's pretty humbling and fulfilling to be able to pass on my knowledge and what I have been able to achieve so far."
Fellow graduate David Mitchell was working as a mechanic when he took on RIST's Certificate III and IV in agriculture in 2017' then progressed to a diploma' then the degree.
"Because of the partnership I was able to receive credit for the first year' and finish the three-year degree in just two'" he said.
Juggling part-time work with studies' David was also putting his learning straight into action' running livestock on a leasehold at his family's property in Tyrendarra.
"The degree has especially helped with business planning' and developed my confidence to pitch to investors as we grow' and to take leadership roles'" David said.
"I'm also excited about the technology that's out there' and the tools and innovations that can improve operations."
David said he considered various degrees before choosing to study with CQUniversity' as the flexible online degree meant he didn't have to travel away from his work and family life.
CQUniversity Associate Vice-President (Victoria Region) Will Alderton attended the graduation' and paid tribute to the determination of the students' and the partnership with RIST.
"CQUniversity's Agriculture education and research has a great reputation nationally' and it's exciting that by partnering with RIST' we're preparing future farming leaders for the really important Victorian Western District'" he said.
"We are proud to have strong partnerships with industry in regional Victoria' including with RIST and with Western District Health Service (WDHS)."
CQUniversity's Bachelor of Agriculture equips students with agriculture knowledge' critical thinking and problem-solving skills required manage business and improve productivity and sustainability of modern agriculture.flickr embed.