A dinner at Muresk on March 25 paid tribute to the many people who contributed to the return of an agriculture degree to the campus at Northam.

The gathering of more than 100 people included agricultural industry and business leaders, educators, politicians, members of the C Y O'Connor Institute staff, governing council and agribusiness industry advisory committee and along with scholarship winners and their parents.

Students in the first intake for the Bachelor of Agricultural Business Management being offered by the C Y O'Connor Institute in collaboration with Charles Sturt University and the Muresk Institute, started classes at the beginning of March.

Negotiations with the state and federal governments and tertiary education providers relating to the re-establishment of a degree at Muresk concluded with the signing of an agreement between C Y O'Connor Institute and Charles Sturt University in September last year. The degree is a first for C Y O'Connor Institute under its policy of offering tertiary pathway programs to complement its broad range of vocational programs for people in rural and remote areas.

Managing Director of C Y O'Connor Institute, John Scott, said the demand for well qualified agricultural graduates from farming groups and agricultural businesses, secondary educators along with more that 120 expressions of interest were the driving force behind the return of the degree.

"The return of the degree to Muresk Institute would not have been possible without the support of the State Government, in particular the Department of Training and Workforce Development and assistance from the Royalties for Regions fund. "I am very pleased with what we have achieved. "It is a practical, hands on course providing relevant first hand knowledge and experience in the operation of farms and agricultural businesses which will produce students ready for work when they graduate," he said.

Head of the School of Agribusiness at Muresk, Professor Christine Storer, said: "Students are receiving their education in a rural setting on a working farm with the opportunity to establish networks that will benefit them throughout their working lives. “There is flexibility to study subjects in blocks of three days with all study materials provided online. "Among others, the course has attracted people from farms and businesses wanting to upgrade their skills,” she said.

Guest speaker Andrew Mostyn, executive director of the Craig Mostyn Group, said he was extremely pleased to be involved with the degree and the consultation involved in its establishment. His company had employed many graduates from Muresk. "The brand Muresk is a good one and agriculture provides many opportunities for graduates," he said.

A feature of the evening was the presentation of a number of scholarships sponsored by agriculture and related businesses. These were the Bryan Mickle scholarship won by Alec Wiles (Popanyinning); Lucie Le Moignan scholarship, Emily Miller (Beverley); Craig Mostyn Group scholarship, Mitchell Hutton (Morawa); Commonwealth Bank scholarship, Emily McKenny (Denmark); C Y O'Connor Muresk residential assistant scholarship, Amy Corsini (Westonia), Rabo Bank scholarships, Jodi James (Cunderdin) and David Storer (Northam);  RSM Bird Cameron scholarship, Nicholas Hardie (Falcon), Westpac scholarship for women, Verity-Jane Dolton (Belmont) and York and Districts Community Bank scholarship, Matthew Reynolds (York).

The commencement dinner was sponsored by  Aus-Oils, the Australia China Business Council, Farm Weekly, Ferngrove Wines, 4Farmers, GD Pork, Planfarm and Suncorp Bank.

TOP: Students from the first intake into the bachelor of agricultural business management at the commencement dinner at Muresk, (L-R) Jodie James (Cunderdin), Emily Miller (Beverley), Amy Corsini  (Westonia), David Storer (Northam), Mitchell Hutton (Morawa), Louise Fraser (Bakers Hill), Nicholas Hardie (Falcon), Gary Tooke (Noggerup), Emily McKenny (Denmark), Tahlia McSwain (Chapman Hill), Verity-Jane Dolton (Belmont), Brianna Hindle (Ballidu), Matthew Reynolds (York), Mitchell Rowe (High Wycombe), Kateland Jury (Morawa), Alec Wiles (Popanyinning) and  Courtney Humphrey (York).

INSET: Emily Miller (Beverley) received the Lucie Le Moignan scholarship from chairman of the C Y O'Connor agribusiness industry advisory committee, and former Muresk director, Dr Ian Fairnie.

BELOW: At the commencement dinner (L-R) member of the C Y O'Connor agribusiness industry advisory committee, Bruce Hutchinson, PGA president, Tony Seabrook (York) and former Nationals MLC, Philip Gardiner.