OPINION: From the beach to the bush, one youngster’s love story
As I looked into the audience, almost 1000 of some of the best in the sheep and meat industry, I couldn’t help but wonder “how on Earth did I get here?”.
Only two years earlier I had been in my home town of the Gold Coast, known for its beaches and theme parks, not sheep.
Yet here I was, standing on-stage and accepting an award as a 2018 LambEx Young Guns winner. Like many, I had always had a passion for animals.
My “I want to be a vet” phase lasted from the age of six to 21.
I realised in my first year of university the job market for palaeontologists was rather slim, and I had to be realistic.
I always wanted an animal career, and I wanted to make a difference to society. I wanted something that would constantly challenge me and never leave me bored.
Through a series of fortunate events, at the age of 19, I left my family and my childhood home near the beach in Queensland to move to Perth to chase my dreams of being a veterinarian.
I think it’s fairly common for young people to want to leave a positive imprint on this world.
We strive to prove ourselves as worthy and exceptional, yet long for a sense of belonging in society.
I wish I had been taught in school you didn’t necessarily need to become a doctor or a lawyer to achieve this. I wish they had taught us you could find a way to make a difference in agriculture.
In Year 8, we watched a Jamie Oliver documentary about caged chickens.
I went home thinking I had discovered the “truth” about where our food came from and believing it was “truth” that society had hidden from us.
I was determined to make a difference by becoming s vegetarian.
My mother refused to cater for my phase, so it never succeeded.
In my entire 12 years of schooling, that Jamie Oliver documentary was all I was taught about where our food came from.
My goal change from veterinary to agriculture was slightly terrifying — after all, I hadn’t wanted to change career paths since Year 1.
But thanks to studying Animal Science at Murdoch University, an agricultural based degree which is often used to transfer into veterinary science, I fell in love with the agriculture industry, the people within it, and the lifestyle.
The agriculture industry welcomed me with open arms, and I was suddenly exposed to a million windows of opportunity.
This was an industry so broad, and forever changing. How had I not known about this?
I wondered why the agriculture industry had been portrayed as only about farming, and as something that did not require additional education or science.
Why had a career in agriculture been portrayed as something not achievable for someone growing up in a city, or rather, something you would not want to achieve?
Agriculture didn’t just give me a career, it gave me a home.
It gave me family, across the nation. It didn’t care where I came from, or my lack of experience.
It just saw my attitude and readiness to jump in and learn, and it was willing to teach me.
Pursuing a career in agriculture taught me about where my food comes from, about the land and what lives on it, and about the history of Australia.
I have learned agriculture is the backbone of the nation, and what keeps the country running.
I will forever be grateful, and no matter where I end up, I will pass on this legacy and teach it, for it needs to be told. I am now a bridge between city and country.
Jamie Nykiel is a recent graduate of Animal Science at Murdoch University.
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