Hello everyone, my name is Francis Arias. I’m a 22 year old from Glenmore Park in Western Sydney and I’m a second year Agriculture student at the University of Western Sydney – Hawkesbury Campus. I stated my degree half way through 2013 and was one of only a couple of students to start my particular degree that semester so I didn’t really know what to expect. Straight away I met the other guys studying agriculture and we became great friends and a great team.
In 2014 we were fortunate enough to be joined by the guys in charge of the renewal of Agriculture at UWS, Therese McGuillion, April Brown and Chris Vella. They were just what our group needed! They helped us with anything and everything, from scholarship applications to gaining work experience and everything in between.
This year has been stressful, busy and tiresome. But I would not change a thing, because it has also been the best year of my life so far. I have been involved in events and programs that I didn’t even know existed. To give a short list, the four things that stand out most about it are my work experience at UWS Farm, SELP program, travelling to Canberra to attend the National Crawford Fund Conference and undertaking work experience at Local Land Services in the Central Tablelands of NSW.
UWS Farm: I have had the privilege of working with a great bunch of people in the Hawkesbury UWS farm, where I got to do many tasks that I believe many Agriculture courses are now missing. Over the last year I have been able to experience first hand what manual labor on a property means and learnt everything from fencing to drenching and vaccinating to spraying. Rain, hail or shine, trusty farm hand Clem Wahl was there to make sure I didn’t bludge or break anything or anyone.
SELP Program: During the Spring semester I was fortunate enough to have Therese phone me up like a telemarketer and very skillfully convince me to sign up for the Social Engagement and Leadership Program at UWS. Once it started and I got to see just what an amazing thing I got myself involved in, I felt really bad for not thinking about signing up earlier. I got to work with one of my fellow Agriculture students as well as students from a variety of fields such as Business and Medicine. All the students selected to do SELP were given different businesses to work with, and we were fortunate enough to get assigned the Youth Food Movement, where we got to meet the founders and CEO’s, Alex Iljadica and Jo Baker. For the next 10 weeks we worked on developing a business plan to see if a YFM chapter would be viable at UWS. To do this, we had to take surveys and talk to students. After the program was finished my fellow Agriculture colleague, Damien continued work with the YFM we are now very close to starting a UWS chapter.
From left to right: Francis Arias, Peter fitzsimons, Barney Glover (UWS Vice Chancellor), Damien Balzer
National Crawford Fund: In August 2014, the Team and I, drove down to Canberra for a few days to attend the National Crawford Fund Conference, where topics of the world’s future food security were discussed. We got to meet the researchers and Heads of State behind it and it was a very cool experience. We all stayed at ACU for that week and I was even fortunate enough to receive an award, the “Big Foot Award”, for accidentally stepping on a very attractive American researcher who I had been joking around with the guys all day saying that I would ask for her number. Very awkward experience, still not as awkward as Justin Whittle being escorted out by security… Twice. Or Jarrod Willemse dropping what seemed like a never-ending supply of paper and pens down the main staircase of Parliament House. All
in all, it was a great experience which put me in contact with a lot of young people who are also interested in International research.
From left to right: Francis Arias, Justin Whittle, Megan Hounslow, Sarrah Corner, Ashley Harkin, Jarrod Willemse
Week at LLS – Mudgee: During the intra session break in the Autumn Semester, I was fortunate enough to spend a week working with Brett Littler, the Livestock officer at Local Land Services in the central tablelands. It was an awesome week filled with farm visits, workshops and driving; lots and lots of driving, seriously I travelled around 3000km that week! During this time, I got to visit great places in rural NSW, like the Liverpool Plains, Liverpool Ranges, Tamworth, Oberon, Rylestone, Dundoo (Or Dunny Doo for the locals), Bathurst and Mudgee of course. I learnt everything from fat and muscle scoring to pasture improvement and weed identification. It was an awesome week!
There are so many other things that my course has allowed me to do. I would need more than one blog to write about,,, “nobody got time for that”, and to be 100% honest, I don’t really like typing, I’m more of a hand writer, so I’m just going to list the ones that I can remember.
- Hawkesbury Agricultural College Lunch at Parliament
- Sydney Crawford Fund
- School Engagement Programs
- One Mile Dinner
- Hawkesbury River Farm
I have now been accepted to go on exchange for a year to Montana State University in Bozeman. I am very excited for the year ahead. And, if 2014 was interesting, then, I can’t wait to see what next year has in store for me and the rest of Agriculture at UWS.