Melbourne Polytechnic graduate, Sheena Mason, always wanted to join the Navy.
But when a medical condition prevented her application from proceeding she developed an interest in the agriculture industry. Despite having no farming background, Sheena enrolled in a course at Melbourne Polytechnic, and went on to win an award for her work in rural communities.
From the age of 10, Sheena Mason had set her heart on a career in the Australian Navy. But her plans fell through at 16, when her application was not accepted on medical grounds. “I was a bit lost. But I knew I wanted to do something practical and outdoors.” Sheena decided to study turf management, but became more and more interested in farming. Not having a farming background, she was a little apprehensive. “I started going to country music festivals and B&S balls and hanging out with people in the industry. They made it seem more achievable.”
After working in turf management for six years, Sheena took the plunge and enrolled in a TAFE course in Shepparton. After completing her Certificate III in Agriculture, she opted for the Diploma of Agriculture at Melbourne Polytechnic (formerly known as NMIT) because the course was more beef-specific. “I was interested in beef from the beginning. I originally went to Shepparton because I thought I should be in the country. But I’m glad I went to Melbourne Polytechnic, it suited me much better.”
During her first year, Sheena spent time completing hands-on tasks like shearing sheep and preparing cattle for shows. Her second year was focussed on farm management and budgeting. “The teachers at Melbourne Polytechnic have experience in a lot of different areas. I had no experience to start with and now I would be quite comfortable working on a farm. It’s great because when you apply for a job you feel comfortable that you know what you’re talking about.”
Earlier this year Sheena, now 27, was recognised for her work in rural communities when she won the Whittlesea Show Rural Ambassador Award, conducted annually by the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria. The aim is to identify and encourage enthusiastic and industrious young people and provide them with a forum to express their views. Sheena, from South Morang, will now compete in the regional final to challenge for the state title at the 2011 Royal Melbourne Show.
After graduating in November, Sheena is currently looking for a job as a farm hand. Once she gets some experience under her belt, her ambition is to work as an artificial insemination technician and eventually start a beef farm. “Farming can be difficult in Australia because the climate is so challenging. But when you’ve selected a bull, inseminated the cow and then you see the newborn calf in front of you and see what you’ve produced. That’s a pretty rewarding experience.”
Thanks to the knowledge and experience she’s gained at Melbourne Polytechnic, Sheena is not fazed by embarking on such a challenging career. “It’s an industry that will continue to change and develop and you never stop learning. Melbourne Polytechnic prepared me for the financial side of it too. I wouldn’t want to spend a lot of money buying a big herd of cows. I want to work my way up to that. I feel like I know what I’m getting myself into now and I know what it takes to be successful.”
Diploma of Agriculture