Dairying life inspires teen’s rural passion

RURAL LIFE: Courtney Zuidema has relished growing up on her family’s dairy farm at Yanakie, against views of Wilsons Promontory.

A YANAKIE woman knows how lucky she has been to grow up on a dairy farm.

Courtney Zuidema, a member of a South Gippsland dairying dynasty, credits her farming upbringing with helping her to secure a tertiary scholarship to pursue university studies.

She will now pursue a teaching degree and wants to return to a dairying community like South Gippsland to help inspire other young people to make the most of opportunities in the country – whether they are on-farm or off.

Courtney was recently presented with a Niel Black scholarship by the Gardiner Dairy Foundation to help her undertake a Bachelor of Education (Honours) in Secondary Health and Physical Education at Monash University, Peninsula campus.

She plans to teach in a dairy community where she hopes to provide inspiration and motivation to young people.

Courtney is the daughter of Ashley and Deidre Zuidema who milk 160 Friesian cows at Yanakie, on a farm established by Ashley’s parents Charlie and Henny Zuidema, now of Meeniyan.

She’s a country girl, relishing the chance to milk cows, feed calves, help with herd testing, and drive a tractor during hay and silage season.

It’s an experience not lost on her siblings – Brooke and Amber – who also help on the farm, when their studies allow. Brooke is an archaeology student in Canberra and Amber is entering Year 11 at Foster Secondary College.

“I just love being out with the calves and I find it really relaxing milking the cows and being in open spaces,” Courtney said.

“One of my earliest memories as a kid was being out on the motorbike with Dad early in the morning, checking the cows.”

The experience of working alongside her family taught her the value of hard work and resilience, given the challenges dairying presents.

“Farming helps strengthen our family when we work together and go through all the hardship that the dairy industry experienced, together,” Courtney said.

The former Foster Secondary College student wants to help change the way people look at the dairying industry.

“There is a stigma of the industry, that it is cruel to animals and through my position I want to help people realise how wonderful dairying is,” she said.

“I will be talking to people about my experience and showing them how good farmers are to animals and how they care for the environment.”

Having seen the benefits of a country childhood, Courtney is enthusiastic about helping other rural teenagers make the most of life.

She plans to return to a dairying community such as South Gippsland and teach senior students.

“Rural schools are desperate for teachers and I would like to come back to a small rural school,” Courtney said.

“I want to give back and help students realise their dreams.”

Away from the farm, Courtney has helped raise funds for the Yanakie CFA for the past 10 years and for the Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal by dressing up as Captain Koala.

She’s also taught dance for the last three years at Susan Green’s School of Dance, and is a keen tennis, badminton and netball player.

“I was a rural youth ambassador in 2018 which involved meeting with other rural students to discuss how rural education can be improved,” she said.

The scholarships were awarded to students from major Victorian dairy regions who are commencing their first year of tertiary study in 2020.

These students have demonstrated academic achievement, a commitment to further study and community involvement.

The scholarships are named in recognition of the significant contribution to the dairy industry made by Niel Black and others.

Each scholarship recipient will receive $10,000 annually for up to three years to contribute towards costs associated with their studies.

“Rural students face high costs associated with living away from home to undertake higher education and training,” the Gardiner Dairy Foundation’s Dr Clive Noble said.

“These scholarships help them to overcome some of the barriers to obtaining a tertiary education, such as travel and accommodation.”

Tertiary scholarships are awarded to students who are undertaking studies that have the potential to benefit the Victorian dairy industry or dairy communities.

The program encourages students to return to Victoria’s dairy regions on graduating, or after gaining further work experience, to ensure a diverse range of essential skills within these regions.

Applications for 2021 Tertiary Scholarships will open in August 2020.

For more information go to: gardinerfoundation.com.au/people-community/#tert or email Richard Meredith: richard.meredith@gardinerfoundation.com.au



Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=30771

Posted by on Feb 11 2020. Filed under Rural News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Recently Commented

  • wstaton: I guess it means he will not be able to attend any council meetings saving us ratepayers his claims for...
  • rojo: Awesome work Lynette
  • vbresident: I read Ms Page’s offering and nearly choked laughing. We have a property on the second estate in...
  • brad: Hi Robbie. Would you like your comments to run as a letter to the editor too? If so, we just need your full...
  • robbiemc: The local council should not be wasting ratepayers money to build a rail trail. And more to the point there...