Alesha-Rose Burke enrolled in the Diploma of Agriculture after completing her VCE. As a northern suburbs teenager she’d always been interested in working on the land but hadn’t had much of a chance to test it out. Melbourne Polytechnic proved to be the perfect playground in which to learn the tools of the trade in the Agricultural industry.
“The field trips were excellent. I loved the hands-on experience of going to the yards and not just sitting back and watching. The whole course was just amazing fun!”
Alesha-Rose Burke completed Melbourne Polytechnic’s Diploma of Agriculture and is thrilled to be working as a station hand for Dunkeld Pastoral on a property in regional Victoria.
Alesha-Rose transitioned straight from school into Melbourne Polytechnic’s Diploma of Agriculture.
“I always had an interest in animals and working on the land. When I found out that I could do a course specialising in this at NMIT [Melbourne Polytechnic’s former title], it became my number one priority.”
Growing up in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, Alesha-Rose remembers spending “just a little time mucking around” on a family friend’s sheep farm in Gippsland.
“I hadn’t had much contact with animals before the course, couldn’t even flip over a sheep! But I was really keen to learn how to manage livestock and run a farm.”
As a school leaver, Alesha-Rose threw herself into the course, unsure of exactly what her plans might be or goals for the future.
“I just wanted to gain as much information as I could. I took it as it came and I learned so much.”
After completing the one-year Diploma, Alesha-Rose became a station hand for Dunkeld Pastoral on ‘Corea South’, one of their six farms near Hamilton, Victoria. The property specialises in farming livestock and crop sharing with 19,000 sheep and 3,000 acres of crops.
“At the moment I’m fencing and moving sheep. I started three weeks ago and I love it! They’ve put me in the deep end and given me a real shot.”
Alesha-Rose admits that she was originally a little nervous about being a woman in a predominantly male industry, but she soon realised that “gender doesn’t matter.”
“I wondered whether I’d be strong enough and how I’d be treated, but everyone’s been really accepting. It’s great that there are more females coming in now!”
One of her colleagues is a fellow Melbourne Polytechnic graduate and Alesha-Rose is happy to have remained in contact with most of the students from her course and her teachers.
“I still talk to my teachers. They would often give us a hand outside of school, calling to see how work was going or to offer work when it came up. They were excellent.”
Alesha-Rose’s class keeps in touch via a dedicated Facebook page, particularly important given some of her peers are from Sudan, Lebanon and The Philippines.
“It was really good having classmates from overseas because it helped us to understand different cultures and the approach to agriculture in other countries.”
Only 19 years old, Alesha-Rose has discovered a whole new world for herself.
“The course really helped me to move out of my comfort zone. Moving 3-4 hours away from home and working has really changed my life. It was hard leaving my mum, dad, brother and boyfriend at home, but everyone here has been really supportive.”
For the future, she hopes to gain as much experience and knowledge as she can.
“I’d really like to manage my own farm one day, travel around Australia working on as many different properties as I can and maybe even work in a less fortunate country.”
Alesha-Rose has only one regret from her time at Melbourne Polytechnic: “I wish the Diploma went for two years! I loved every single moment of it.”
Her advice to prospective students is simple and clear.
“Give it everything you’ve got! The course goes really quickly. Make sure you put in 100% and get as much out of it as you can.”
Diploma of Agriculture