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Last year presented many challenges for the inaugural AusGAP Scholarship recipients, as it did for everyone. Initially there were concerns whether the recipients would be able to commence their studies as planned, among many other concerns relating to COVID-19.

AusGAP can announce scholarship recipients were successful in commencing their studies.

“The recipients had to deal with a number of challenges during a trying year. Issues like the best way to enrol in their courses, if the courses would proceed and how
these courses would be delivered were common across all recipients.

To have all scholarship beneficiaries make great in-roads in their courses, was a great achievement”.

We recently caught up with each of the recipients to find out how they have progressed with their studies and what the last 12 months have looked like for their careers.

Belinda Evans, the Finance Officer for Coolabah Turf in Echuca continued her education in Accounting, Finance and HR with a course that will run over 2 years. As Belinda is a self-taught finance officer, enrolling in these courses would enable her to formalise her current proficiencies, as well as update her knowledge and current business practices relating to her role.

Due to the current world climate, Belinda was unable to start her course early in 2020. With the changes that COVID-19 produced in the learning sector she commenced an online accounting course in September and will look to complete it as well as the Finance and HR components this year.

Chris Erikson is a Team Leader at Woronora General Cemetery and Crematorium in Sydney NSW and is responsible for the presentation of the lawns at the Cemetery.

Chris commenced studying a certificate III in Sports Turf Management in July. Chris said “It has been a challenge, but a very enjoyable course in which I have loved every minute. The course has also given me a better understanding on the finer details involved with Sports Turf Management and on how to read turf needs, including when to apply products and keeping turf healthy”.

2021 will see Chris undertake the second year of the course which will allow him to gain more knowledge and learn new things in an industry that he has a real passion for.

Nick Skerys is a Turf Technician at Lilydale Instant Lawn in Pakenham VIC. Nick is undertaking an Agriculture and Technology (Sport Turf Science) Degree offered by the Latrobe University/Melbourne Polytechnic.

Nick’s course was moved to online lectures via Zoom. Nick said “It all went well, the classes were completed online, and I gained a good understanding of what was taught. The subjects mostly covered a broad foundation of biology and organic chemistry”.

“The best parts of the course were the amount of content that was covered, which
was impressive. Organic chemistry was cool to learn, for years I’ve used many different chemicals on the farm and being able to look at a chemical name and have a bit more understanding about its structure and properties is helpful”. Nick continued.

In the next 12 months of Nick’s study, he is really looking forward to the Applied Genomics and Plant Breeding class. In 2020 the course touched on and built a foundation of understanding on DNA, inheritance and plant reproduction and this subject will expand on everything even further. “Plant Physiology will be nice to really get into the specifics of turf and crop management.” Nick said.

Nick works at the Pakenham farm with Sir Walter DNA Certified and is seeing some great results using the knowledge he has attained. “I have to say it’s looking healthier than ever. Gaining the knowledge from the course has enabled even better fine tuning of our nutrition program to optimise growth. With the current program we’re seeing Sir Walter fill in significantly faster than before. Obtaining quality mature turf roughly 4 -6 months faster than it would have taken in previous years.” Nick said.

Steven Tonkins is the Harvest Coordinator for Coolabah Turf in Echuca VIC.
He successfully completed a Multi Combination licence training in August and has been assisting with turf deliveries in Coolabahs B-Double truck.

We have decided to continue the AusGAP scholarship program for 2021, keep an eye out for this years winners.