Agribusiness student forges ahead with passion and nous

If only a bit of Kaitlyn Wishart’s life could be bottled… actually, that’s just what happens when you come from a dairy farm. Each litre of milk from Rowlands Park Holsteins comes with essence of the early rises, hard work and passion of Kaitlyn and her family. They’re also qualities she’s bringing to her studies and work experience at La Trobe.

The second-year Bachelor of Business (Agribusiness) student’s past, present and future is shaped by life on the farm.

“I was born and raised on a dairy farm at Cohuna,” Kaitlyn says. “I’ve always loved the cows and the business side of the farm. When I was deciding what to do, I could never really see myself outside of agriculture.

“Going into the course I was unsure about what exactly I wanted to do. Everyone says if you do a business course, you can’t go wrong. The course has really opened my eyes up to the different fields I can go into. There are just so many opportunities this course can lead to, such as what I’m doing on this placement with AgriNous.”

After completing VCE at Cohuna Secondary College Kaitlyn moved to Bendigo to pursue the course. The fact the campus was just 90 minutes from her hometown was a big plus, as it’s an easy drive home for weekends on the farm.

“It’s such a great escape,” she says. “I can bunker down during the week, get my study done, do my work at Agrinous, then get out on the farm and have some fun.

“If I don’t have study, I’m up early in the mornings to feed the calves. At the moment we’re watering out at the turnout block, putting out hay and silage, moving cattle, treating animals and monitoring them.

“It’s so green right now. We’re cutting silage and we’ll be cutting hay soon. It’s just lovely to see, especially after the drought years and the high water prices, when everyone was struggling. This year is just so nice.”

Work Integrated Learning presents a “great opportunity”

Usually, Agribusiness students don’t do a work placement until third year, but Kaitlyn’s Social Media and Visualisation elective lecturer encouraged her to pursue this 12-week placement with AgriNous this semester, as it aligned with her background and skills; she also manages the family farm’s digital marketing.

AgriNous develops digital tools for the livestock industry, simplifying systems and eliminating paperwork for all stakeholders. The business is also a La Trobe Accelerator Program alumni, and former twice-winner of the Bendigo Invention + Innovation Awards (agriculture award + overall Inventor of the Year 2018).

“The business has a major focus on sale yards,” Kaitlyn says. “I’ve been around sale yards a bit with stud cattle sales, so I know a bit of the background workings, which has helped, but working with AgriNous has shown me how much work goes into the sale yards behind the scenes.

“I’ve been able to relate the work back to my own experiences and understand how much easier they make the industry.”

Kaitlyn has been working on an AgriNous project to turn a paper-based system of declaring cattle for sale, into a digital system.

“I’m also looking at the marketing side of the business, and I’m being taught the customer service side of things. Everyone there is so passionate about what they do, they’re welcoming and they want to help you.”

One of those team members is La Trobe Bachelor of Business (Agribusiness) alumnus, Shaun Doolan, who also did an internship and now works in the business fulltime.

“It’s good to see that people are doing so well from the course, so I have high hopes,” Kaitlyn says.

Kaitlyn joins her two sisters in looking to pursue a career in agriculture, with her older sister interested in farm machinery, and her younger sister in the livestock.

“Mum and Dad have always said to us, make sure you go out and experience things, and you’ll always have the farm to come back to if you want to come back.

“This course has opened my eyes up to not be afraid to move away from dairy farming … it will also give me the skills to run the business if I ever want to take over from Mum and Dad.”

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