A young Victorian woman whose passion for agriculture has seen her awarded scholarships and travel overseas was an inspiring after-dinner speaker at last week’s South Australian dairy conference.
Mikaela Baker took her first agricultural studies in Year 9 and after a placement on a sheep farm for one day a week was so impressed she set her goals on an agri-business career.
Ms Baker decided to study a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at Charles Sturt University and in 2013 she was awarded the Horizon Scholarship, which supports future agricultural leaders.
Later she spent several weeks working on the dairy farm of Sarah and Ray Parker at Tatura.
‘‘They were amazing in how they showed me the ropes, because I had never set foot on a dairy farm,’’ Ms Baker said.
‘‘They organised for me to spend one day a week with a nutritionist, and after that I knew exactly what I wanted to do.’’
Her further experience with a skilled nutritionist confirmed her goals.
‘‘I’ve had many opportunities to attend conferences and workshops throughout Australia and overseas, but the greatest was the Knoxville American Dairy Association conference provided by Dairy Australia,’’ Ms Baker said.
She visited a 9000-cow dairy farm, which had two rotary dairies running full-time.
Each cow was cared for by a specific team, which enabled cows to be managed as individuals with any health or behaviour changes quickly identified.
She noted the employees she met were passionate about their jobs and appreciated their clearly defined career paths.
She encouraged other students to seize the opportunity offered by scholarships and to seek advice from experienced practitioners.
‘‘The worst thing that could happen is that you might be told no, but no-one has ever said no to offering their time,’’ she said.
‘‘I think it is really important to find a job that aligns with your personal values and appreciates you for your strengths and weaknesses.’’
Ms Baker now works as a nutritionist with Total Result Ag Consulting based at Victor Harbour in South Australia and is undertaking further studies.