For this issue Prospects spoke to two students who are studying different courses within the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences.
Taya Clarke is studying Animal Science. She tells us about her course and what it is like studying in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at UWA. She also has some advice for anyone considering a similar field of study...
I am in my fourth and final year of my Bachelor of Science in Animal Science. I am currently undertaking my fourth year project and I'm so excited to be finishing soon.
I decided to study at UWA after completing a year of a different degree at a different uni. I was looking for more of a hands-on experience and I knew that I wanted to work with animals. Animal Science has given me just that. Being a city girl, I get lots of funny looks when I explain that I work with production animals. But rather than fixing them when they are sick, I was interested in keeping them healthy.
In the Animal Science you get good "backbone" science and then you see the science that you learn in lectures and tutorials actually put into real life practice with real live animals. We get to handle many different animals, including natives and production animals. I am able to make use of the extensive UWA facilities, including Allendale, the working university farm, and the Shenton Park field station, as well as the large animal house on the Nedlands campus. We get to see what happens in industry by going onto real working farms and other systems like feedlots, and we look at ways that the management of animals may be improved, especially with innovative clean green and ethical systems. I was surprised with just how much my degree was geared towards industry and with jobs in mind.
I am undertaking my honours project with the Department of Agriculture and Food and for this I go down to Katanning where there are over 150 sheep allocated to me. I have the opportunity to work with researchers and some wonderful staff, and I am learning the ins and outs of conducting my own research, which is so much fun. This year I also got the opportunity to study an external unit in Wool Biology and Metrology that is run though an eastern states university. I was given a scholarship and they paid for me to fly over to Sydney for a week to do the practical component. I met lots of people from all over Australia and it was a really unique experience.
I have to say that one of the best things about studying at UWA is studying within the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Science. We are one of the smallest faculties at UWA so we get to know our lecturers really well. There is always someone around to help you if you need it. I have become good friends with many of the staff, especially my project supervisor, and everyone is so approachable. It makes uni life a lot easier because it cuts down the stress when you don't understand something or have a problem that you need help solving.
I only have a few months of my degree to go, which means that I need to start thinking about a job. In the final year there are opportunities to join a graduate program that exposes you to potential employers in the industry, which is very exciting! At this stage, I'm considering doing a postgraduate degree because I'm really enjoying conducting my own research and using my knowledge to create new science. But I'm also considering going into the animal health and nutrition side of the industry.
For those who are considering undertaking careers in Animal Science and other agricultural industries, I advise that you have an open mind. If I had conformed and not gone out of my comfort zone, I would have missed out on an exciting and unique university experience. An Animal Science degree challenges you to think outside the square. I'm excited to start my career and I am confident that my experience at UWA has equipped me with the knowledge and confidence I need to succeed.