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OPINION: From the beach to the bush, one youngster’s love story

Jamie NykielCountryman
Jamie Nykiel moved from her Gold Coast home to WA to chase her agriculture dreams.
Camera IconJamie Nykiel moved from her Gold Coast home to WA to chase her agriculture dreams. Credit: Danella Bevis

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.

Jamie Nykiel.
Camera IconJamie Nykiel. Credit: Cally Dupe

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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