THIS time last year Emily Lavis was working on one of Australia's most iconic cattle stations, Newcastle Waters, in the northern Territory.
At the same time Jaimee McQuellin was working at the JBS-owned feedlot west of Griffith in the Riverina.
Now the pair are in Wagga studying at Charles Sturt and have earned an internship with Angus Australia and the Graham Centre.
Age is no barrier in terms of gaining a plethora of practical experience before embarking on university studies. Miss Lavis is 19 and Miss McQuellin, 20.
The practical experience has given them enough of a taste of agricultural life that they are keen to study for four years to gain formal university qualifications. The internship, which has been offered for three years, will run for one year and includes a diverse range of experiences.
"I am looking forward to networking an meeting people in the industry," Miss Lavis said.
Miss McQuellin agreed saying the internship was valuable for making rural contacts. She was also grateful for her feedlot experience and the grounding it had provided.
Miss Lavis grew up on a beef property at Braidwood and owns a commercial cattle herd.
Miss McQuellin is from Tumut and has experience working at a Shorthorn cattle stud. She was also part of her school livestock show team.
As part of the internship program the pair will gain an insight into research by helping collect data from the Charles Sturt cattle herd as part of the Angus Sire Benchmarking Program (ASBP).
The students will also work with Angus Australia at the national conference and Angus Youth Round-Up in Toowoomba.
Past internship participant Charles Sturt Bachelor of Agricultural Science student Rebecca Dean, said the opportunity opened her eyes to the commercial relevance of genetics research.
"Seeing the accuracy of results from all the data collected is really quite amazing, and can ensure confidence in genetic technology only through the high precision and accuracy of data collected," Miss Dean said.
"The Australia Sire Benchmarking Program is an example of a large, long running and exceptionally commercially relevant research. The really cool thing is that it's leading to some pretty innovative uses for genetics such as the release of the ImmuneDEX Estimated Breeding Value (EBV)," she said.
"I am incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity and gained more than I could have imagined through the development of a strong network of new contacts."
Graham Centre acting director, Associate Professor Marta Hernandez-Jover, said it's an opportunity to support the next generation of industry leaders.
"We are pleased to be able to offer students the opportunity to develop their skills, build connections in the industry and learn more about current research."
Angus Australia's strategic project manager Christian Duff said the program has many benefits.
"Industry collaboration is critical for Angus Australia's capability to deliver innovative programs and offer capacity building for young industry professional and students.
"This partnership ... coupled with industry leading research and development, is a great example of this type of initiative."