Guests at the WA College of Agriculture - Cunderdin year 12 dinner had the opportunity to hear three inspiring speakers talk about their careers and points of interest in their lives.

The dinner on February 28 attended this year by 140 people, started last year. It recognizes the contribution of the students to the life of the college. It also aims to provide them with inspiration by listening to the achievements of past graduates.

The first speaker was the operations manager of the CBH Group, David Capper. In his talk he praised the WA agricultural education system and emphasised opportunities in the industry. "Agriculture covers just about every skill imaginable. "We need young people with skills to maintain agriculture into the future," he said.

He grew up on a farm at Beverley and intended to become a farmer. However, he was encouraged by the principal at Cunderdin at the time to study agribusiness at Muresk. "It is a great institution that taught me how to learn and pick up new skills," Mr Capper said.

After graduating from Muresk he got a job with CBH and went on to become manager of grain quality. He later managed a flour mill in Indonesia part owned by CBH where he learnt skills in international trading and leadership. After returning to Australia he became operations manager and runs the co-operative's storage and handling facilities and manages 1,000 workers.

The second speaker was a former student of the College and a Muresk graduate. At the age of 27 Ryan Meldrum is manager of Rabo Bank in Merredin. Lack of capital prevented him becoming a farmer but a degree from Muresk allowed him to remain in the agricultural industry and follow a path into rural finance. The networks he formed as a student had helped him in his work, he said.

"The perception of agriculture should be one of an exciting, dynamic industry and be promoted that way, especially in the city. "Don't under estimate the power of social media. "Use it to advantage and avoid the disadvantages . "We've seen that it can close down an industry overnight as it did in the case of the live trade," Mr Meldrum said.

Veterinarian and former Muresk lecturer, Dr Peter Symonds, spoke on depression and suicide. He spoke from personal experience having suffered a brain haemorrhage followed by a long period of depression. "The problem with depression is that it can take many years to diagnose," he said.

Dr Symonds has developed a concept which he calls 'brain fuel' which is influenced by stress. Low brain fuel leads to sustained, high levels of adrenalin and depletion of serotonin.  The condition affects 20% of the population and common in high achievers. "Statistics show seven people a day commit suicide. "A permanent solution to a temporary problem," he said.

Once diagnosed, his depression was relatively easy to treat. Steps in the process included  a change of lifestyle, learning to relax properly, medication and dealing with issues.  Some people saw shame in using medication but it was important to him, at least in the early stages of treatment," Dr Symonds said.

Lindsay McNeill

ABOVE: Keynote speaker, Dr Peter Symonds, makes a point during his address to the dinner at Cunderdin.