Ellie Hodge, 20, of Leitchville, is this year’s winner of the Greenham GOTAFE Dairy Scholarship, valued at $12,000.
Keen to keep the momentum up after completing her Science degree, Ellie is in her first year of Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine at the University of Melbourne after being granted accelerated entry into the course.
A classic country story, Ellie is one of three daughters to dairy farmers Cameron and Ann Hodge who milk 400 Holsteins on their Northern Victorian property. The shared experience of lending a hand in the dairy or hand feeding calves had a deep impact on her outlook.
“Mum and dad have always been very open about the challenges of operating a dairy whether it be on-farm efficiencies, the volatility of milk pricing – basically the realities of running a dairy operation.”
“When I was about sixteen, the local vet came out to treat a sick cow and I thought this is pretty cool – and later learnt that I could get paid for it!”
Ellie now looks up to senior Vets and the love they have for their careers. She understands how rewarding it is to treat multiple species of animals and see positive results, particularly in production animals.
“As I have gained more knowledge, I’ve become really interested in the area of animal health in terms of welfare and also production. Unless an animal is in its best condition and its welfare given top priority, it can’t produce to its potential – the two go hand in hand.”
Of particular focus, Ellie is keen to investigate further into areas like dairy cow mastitis and preventative measures to this industry wide issue. “We can look at reducing Bulk Milk Cell Counts (BMCC), improving breeding strategies and tightening up farm practices which can decrease losses associated with the condition.”
“I’m also keen to look further into antibiotic use and the issues surrounding ongoing use and antibiotic resistance,” Ellie adds.
On hearing the news about winning the scholarship – Ellie says she was surprised but extremely happy and was straight on the phone to her dad who said he was very proud of her efforts and application to study.
With the cost of both an undergraduate course and doctor of veterinary science exceeding six figures, the scholarship funding takes some of the financial stress away and
Darren Payne, Commercial Manager of Agriculture and Dairy at GOTAFE said, “Ellie has demonstrated outstanding academic capability and outlined her future contribution to the industry really well. Her potential future impact on community and industry will be significant.”
Executive chairman, Peter Greenham, said the scholarship demonstrates company’s long-standing commitment to education, innovation and the Australian dairy industry.
“It’s very important that younger people see a future for themselves in dairy and agricultural production. We have built our business on servicing the dairy sector and we want to see it prosper to help build strong regional communities and local economies,” Mr Greenham said.
Among the criteria considered for the $12,000 prize are personal and academic achievements, the potential benefits and relevance of the chosen study area or career path to the dairy industry (or related industries) and how important the scholarship might be in helping the applicant realise his or her ambitions.
Ellie will certainly be a strong advocate for the Greenham GOTAFE Scholarship saying, “don’t think you’re not capable – Just have a go, you’ve got nothing to lose.”
In 2017 the annual Greenham dairy scholarship was rejuvenated and a key partnership established with GOTAFE, Shepparton.
This partnership sees GOTAFE become a major supporter of the $12,000 scholarship, now known as the ‘GREENHAM GOTAFE DAIRY SCHOLARSHIP’ and marketed comprehensively across dairy producing regions of Victoria and Southern NSW.
GOTAFE offers real world learning experiences, flexible hands on training and a wide range of accredited courses across regional Victoria. Offering training in Food and Fibre, GOTAFE uses the latest techniques and research, delivered by industry experienced trainers and agricultural professionals.
By Trevor Fleming