Camp plants career path seed

Kim CousinsCountryman

Growing up on the family farm near Ardath/Bruce Rock, Lachlan Hunter knew from an early age that he wanted a job in agriculture.

The WA College of Agriculture, Cunderdin, student is working towards a career as a plant breeder and hopes to improve the lives of others through his work.

Lachlan was part of an industry placement camp for students, such as himself, with a passion to develop careers in the agricultural sector.

The Primary Industries Centre for Science Education (PICSE) brings together universities, agribusiness, food industry, research organisations, schools, community and governments to raise awareness of food security and the sustainability of food production.

The aim of the centre is to nurture the next generation of agrifood and fibre scientists, innovators and industry leaders as well as address the decline in young professionals in rural areas.

Held during the summer school holidays, 25 students from across WA were selected to spend time at the University of WA and other locations around Perth. learning about agricultural industries.

"My main highlight was food and fibre security with Professor Kadambot Siddique," Lachlan said. "The presentation gave me an insight to where the agriculture industry will be heading in the near future."

Lachlan spent a week of industry placement at InterGrain in South Perth where he worked alongside plant breeders and was given a taste of what it's like to be a plant breeder/technician.

"Even though I'm a farm boy I never knew where our breeds of barley came from," he said.

The highlight of his week in industry placement was molecular marker sampling.

"We had to get a snippet of 100 or so barley plant leaves and put them into a well in a punnet plate," Lachlan said.

"Then we sent it off to a lab at Murdoch University where a gel electrophoresis test was carried out to determine the DNA of the particular barley plant.

"I spent a lot of my time in the research lab entering data and performing quality sample tests on barley."

The industry placement camp not only taught Lachlan important career skills, it also opened his mind to possibilities in the agricultural industry.

"Before PICSE I just wanted to become an agronomist but after seeing the challenges on my industry placement that has all changed," he said. "Now I want to be a plant breeder, there's a real skills shortage.

"My goal is to create a crop that could sustain the future of farming through a high yielding wheat or barley."

Lachlan plans to take a gap year after finishing school this year and then begin an agriscience degree.

My goal is to create a crop that could sustain the future of farming through a high yielding wheat or barley.

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