Supporting a Future in Agriculture

(Left) Brittany Bickford with principal bilogist Peter Nott at Elmore Research Station.
(Right) Cheyne Gibbs and senior biologist Chris Love at Breeza Research Station.

Brittany Bickford and Cheyne Gibbs are fourth year agriculture science students at Charles Sturt University (CSU), Wagga Wagga NSW. They both grew up on farms and have a passion for agriculture, particularly for its future and research and have just completed a 12 week internship with DowAgroSciences.

In addition to a generous stipend, the students gained valuable experience and insight into the vast array of projects within a global research and development company. This included pegging out plots, mixing chemicals, spraying and assessing crop protection trials, assisting the wheat breeding team, conducting market research and working with the regulatory team.

“I learnt a lot during my time with Dow. I now have a much better idea of what’s involved in agricultural research. I’ve also learnt a lot of practical skills that will be very useful in any agricultural career” stated Cheyne.

This is the second year Dow AgroSciences has offered scholarships to CSU agriculture students. “For the last two years we have worked with CSU to identify the most promising applicants who have an interest in agricultural research. This year we were able to accept two of their best students to work with us across the breadth of our research projects. The students spent time at each of our three research stations in NSW, Victoria and South Australia, as well as in our head office in Sydney” explained Dow AgroSciences ANZ Research and Development Leader, Dr Matt Cahill.

“I was even able to attend a field day at the Breeza Research Station, which was a really good opportunity and was very interesting” added Cheyne. “Having this experience with Dow helped me realise that I am interested in research, that I enjoy it and I’d really like to pursue a career in this area of agriculture”.

“I’ve really enjoyed travelling around to Dow’s many trial sites to see various areas of Australia, and meeting a lot of different agronomists and farmers. I’ve also enjoyed seeing inside an agrochemical company and all the different parts of the business. The most interesting things I have learnt have been related to the registration process of chemical products within a research and development company; the trial process to get to registration; APVMA (Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority) requirements for trials; the associated occupational health and safety requirements for working in the field; and the details of product patents” outlined Brittany. “This has been a great experience for me and an opportunity that I would highly recommend to other students to explore.”

“I now know that I want a role where I can be directly helping farmers meet their production goals” summarised Brittany.

“We were particularly delighted this year with the calibre of the applicants” noted Dr Cahill. “Agriculture tends to be dominated by men, so it was encouraging to have two very capable young women selected to have this experience with us. Gender equality is a key element to Dow’s growth strategy and a firm commitment from our leadership team. Combining this focus with helping young people develop their interests in agriculture is always rewarding.”

For more information regarding Dow AgroSciences’ scholarship to fourth year CSU agricultural science students, please contact Dr Matt Cahill on 02 9776 3409 or The School of Agricultural and Wine Sciences at Charles Sturt University on 02 6933 2420.