Britney Schofield, 16, Emerald, is the latest recipient of a cotton scholarship at the Emerald Agricultural College, and the high school student couldn’t be happier.
Britney said after being raised in town, she was not sure how to get involved in the agricultural industry, so applied for the scholarship.
“Because I didn’t have the opportunity to live out on a property or do any of that sort of stuff, I thought I’d try to get in to this industry,” she said.
She was drawn to cotton through a love of machinery, and after growing up in the Emerald region she said she had seen plenty on the roadside and was always keen to learn more about it.
The Central Highlands Cotton Growers and Irrigators Association and Cotton Australia’s Emerald Agricultural Scholarship was open to students starting at the college this year.
As for receiving the scholarship, the Year 11 student said that came as a big surprise.
“I was actually a bit shocked about it, it’s not usual for me to get a scholarship or anything like that,” she said.
Britney is completing Year 12 through the PACE program in conjunction with the Emerald State High School.
She said she is most keen to get out on the machinery.
“I wouldn’t mind getting on the tractors, I like machinery and definitely wouldn’t mind trying to learn how to plant and all that sort of stuff,” she said.
Cotton Australia board representative and local grower Nigel Burnett, Colorada, Emerald, said the relationship between the ag college and local growers was vital.
“There’s a long history for us – we’ve had ag college students for the last ten years and we’ve employed quite a number of them after they’ve left college and they’ve stayed with us for up to two or three years,” he said.
“We see it as a good pathway to find good staff.”
He said the scholarship itself was vital for students like Britney, who didn’t grow up on a farm.
“Scholarships are important, they provide a pathway through to our industry for people that may not have access to the cotton industry,” he said.
“It’s excellent… it’s a positive that the kids in town are seeing ag and cotton as an opportunity as a career for them.”