Horizon Scholar Alyse Wood has Olympic-sized career aspirations

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Sponsored by AgriFutures Thoroughbred Horses Program the 2021 AgriFutures Australia Horizon Scholar is keen to make her mark on the equine world, holding a lifelong dream to one day travel as a veterinarian with the Australian Equestrian Olympic Team.

We caught up with Alyse to hear about how her background in agriculture has influenced her ambitious career goals, and how she ultimately wants to give back to her community and industry.

Tell us a bit about your background and your passion for horses?

I was incredibly lucky to have the childhood I did. My family are commercial beef cattle farmers and growing up in that environment I learnt so many things about livestock, management, and general care of animals. If I wasn’t playing sports, or doing other extracurricular activities, you could find me riding my horse and mustering the cattle.

I have loved horses for as long as I can remember. Even before I had my first pony, I would set up pretend cattle yards with blocks and pretend I was riding my horse around the yards. I had my first Shetland pony when I was six years old and oh boy did I learn to hang on! I have learnt so many things from working horses over the years and hope that at some stage I can impact some of their lives as much as they have impacted mine.

Our property is at Darr Creek, in regional south west Queensland. I’d say my education was a little different to most people, I had a 30-minute bus ride to our tiny 13 student primary school (at one stage it was down to six students), then moved onto a 500 student high school, a further hour up the road. And now I’m amongst thousands of people at The University of Queensland.

Your love of horses and life on the land are obvious, and you are now well on your way to completing a Bachelor of Veterinary Science at The University of Queensland. What was it that drew you to pursue a career as a vet?

I think the things I am passionate about in life stem from growing up on the land and, in some way or another, they all interlink with the veterinary profession, so I guess you could say studying a Bachelor of Veterinary Science was always on the cards.

In the veterinary field my passions lie in reproduction and the equine athlete, but as a rural vet

I hope to continue to learn more about agriculture more generally, and pursue some of my other interests, which include cropping and sustainability.

I have been very fortunate throughout my education to be surrounded by many inspiring individuals and I am eager to learn and give back to my community. I think the best piece of advice I have received is to “take every opportunity that comes your way”.

My university studies have provided me with a range of opportunities to work on some really interesting research projects, volunteer for industry conferences, including the Australasian Veterinary Student Conference and UQVETS Equine Practitioners Conference and learn from some of the greatest specialists in the equine veterinary profession. I am also working as a veterinary nurse while studying full-time. This has given me hands on experience throughout my degree.

This year you have joined the AgriFutures Australia Horizon Scholarship program, in a position sponsored by the AgriFutures Australia Thoroughbred Horse Program. What was it about the program that appealed to you and what do you hope to get out of it?

I applied for the Horizon scholarship as it aligned with many of my personal values. It also offers an amazing opportunity to develop my professional skills and network with industry leaders. I am really looking forward to my industry work placements, first up I will be heading to Randwick Equine Centre (REC) Equine Specialists.

Throughout the duration of the program, I hope to learn more about other agricultural industries, form new friendships and meet industry representatives. I am very excited to work alongside AgriFutures Australia and my sponsors Thoroughbred Horses Program to learn from some of the very best in the industry. Through my placement I will get to work with the epitome of the equine athlete – the thoroughbred horse– in the horse world.

How do you think participating in AgriFutures Horizon Scholarship will support your studies and future career ambitions?

At this stage, upon completion of my degree I would like to work in mixed rural practice for a couple of years with a focus on horses, cattle and dogs, and then potentially look into specialising. From the age of 10 I have dreamt of running a successful farming business and travelling to an Olympic Games with the Australian Equestrian Team as a veterinarian. Who knows what the future might bring?

The Horizon Scholarship will enable me to develop my professional skills and make industry connections that I may not have otherwise made, helping to pave the way to my dream career. I have been very lucky throughout my life to have been supported by so many dedicated and caring individuals, so I hope one day I will also be able to give back to my community and profession.

 

The AgriFutures Horizon Scholarship is an initiative supporting students enrolled in full time study at an Australian university. Students must be studying an agriculture-related degree or a degree in Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths/Finance (STEM) with major studies and subject selections that align to agriculture.

Find out more about the Horizon Scholarship program at www.agrifutures.com.au/horizon.

Alyse’s Horizon Scholarship is sponsored by the AgriFutures Thoroughbred Horses Program.

The AgriFutures Thoroughbred Horses Program invests in research, development and extension (RD&E) to improve the sustainability, productivity and competitiveness of the Australian thoroughbred industry. For more visit agrifutures.com.au/thoroughbred-horses.

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