SEVEN tertiary scholarships have been awarded to students from Victorian dairy regions who are commencing their first year of tertiary study in 2021.

Two of the recipients – Kiara McJames-Court and Hugh Nicoll – are from Pound Creek and Fish Creek, respectively.

The scholarships are awarded annually by the Gardiner Dairy Foundation to students who have shown a commitment to leadership and personal development and intend to return to regional Victoria at the completion of their studies. In addition, they must demonstrate sound academic achievement and having contributed to their community.

The scholarships are named in recognition of the significant contribution to the dairy industry made by Shirley Harlock, Jakob Malmo, Bill Pyle, Doug Weir and Niel Black.

Each scholarship recipient will receive $10,000 annually for up to three years to contribute towards costs associated with their studies.

Kiara (Doug Weir scholarship) grew up on a family dairy farm at Pound Creek and completed VCE at Newhaven College. She will study towards a Bachelor of Science, majoring in animal science, at Deakin University and hopes to become a vet working with large animals.

Farming and community are extremely important influences in Kiara’s life. She has extensive involvement with her local surf lifesaving for the past nine years and has volunteer-patrolled over 430 hours. She has been involved in Landcare in both the broader community and through increasing tree plantations on her family’s farm.

Hugh (Niel Black bequest scholarship) grew up on a family dairy farm at Fish Creek and attended Foster Secondary College where he was school captain. He will be studying a Bachelor of Marine and Antarctic Science at the University of Tasmania.

Hugh has volunteered his time to assist with the lyrebird population survey in his local bushland and the Great Victorian Fish Count. He has also been involved with increasing tree plantations on his family farm.

Through the Scouting movement, Hugh volunteered annually at the local agricultural show, participated in Clean Up Australia Day, Relay for Life and other community activities.

Hugh values a healthy environment, ocean and ecology and the importance of protecting and conserving ecosystems. He wants to enhance land management and help inform farmers on how to best preserve their own environments with positive flow on effects to the broader ecosystem.

Gardiner Dairy Foundation chief executive Dr Clive Noble said rural students faced high costs associated with living away from home to undertake higher education and training.

“These scholarships support the development of young professionals who may not otherwise have the opportunity to pursue higher education.”

The program encourages students to return to Victoria’s dairy regions upon graduating, or after gaining further work experience, to ensure a diverse range of essential skills within these regions.

“These scholarships align with the Australian Dairy Plan in encouraging people who have obtained tertiary qualifications to make their careers in the dairy industry and its varied communities,” Dr Noble said.

Applications for 2022 Tertiary Scholarships will open in September 2021.

For more information, go to gardinerfoundation.com.au/ts or email Richard Meredith at richard.meredith@gardinerfoundation.com.au.