Australia’s Agricultural Student of the Year Jay Elliott has advice for those wanting to emulate her success.
“It’s not about being the perfect student, it’s about being resilient even when you didn’t get it quite right the first time,” she said.
Jay, who studies agricultural science at Murdoch University, was recognised at the 2023 Australian Farmer of the Year Awards on Tuesday at Parliament House in Canberra.
A mature-age student, Jay balances full-time study with working part-time and raising two teenage daughters.
“My lecturers at Murdoch have been amazing in understanding that my life has lots of competing priorities and working with these to be the best I can be,” she said.
“And without the support and love of my daughters, I would not be able to do what I’ve done, or what I want to do in the future.”
After she finishes her degree next year, Jay is hoping to transfer to Murdoch’s famed veterinary science degree and specialise in livestock.
“I have such a passion for the agricultural industry and working with animals, so I know livestock is where I truly want to be, and no matter the challenges, it is where I will stay,” she said.
Jay’s dream is to work with investors and organisations to set up an agritourism facility in the Harvey area that welcomes visitors, students, academics, and anyone interested in sharing agriculture experiences.
“Representing our regional area is also such a privilege for me and I would love to put our area, and its great way of living, in the spotlight,” she said.
“It’s not just about showing people where their food comes from, it’s about showing off our state, our people, and our passions.”
This is not a new idea for Jay, who has been engaging with the community and empowering others to embrace agriculture for years. She judges sheep at the Kelmscott Agricultural Show and spends time encouraging high school students to get involved in agriculture.
Jay found likeminded individuals through Women in Farming, a network of women from a variety of industries throughout WA that share agribusiness knowledge and ideas. She is proud to be a positive role model for her daughters, and women and girls across the nation.
“I want my daughters to be proud of what I have achieved, and to know they too can make career decisions at any point in their life,” she said.
“I hope to show other women - mothers and girls - that we can be amazing and passionate in what we love and that it is never too late to start learning.”
The Agricultural Student of the Year award was sponsored by AgriFutures Australia, the Kondinin Group and ABC Rural.
Kondinin Group General Manager of Research Ben White said the agriculture industry needs people like Jay: “who come in with a wealth of knowledge and experience from outside farming, who have the passion to succeed and make change,” he said.
Sheridan Ingold from AgriFutures Australia said Jay was a role model for mature-age students looking to branch into agriculture as a new career opportunity.
“Mature-aged students like Jay, who come from outside the industry, offer a different perspective and can provide great insight to others considering agriculture as a career option,” she said.
“This different perspective enriches our industry and encourages diversity and sustainability.”