Around 640 prospective students, alumni and members of the Goulburn Valley community explored the University of Melbourne's Dookie agricultural campus on Sunday 9 September.
Around 150 academics, professional staff and students led tours, gave presentations, organised activities and delivered other assistance for the event, bringing numbers at the campus to around 800 on the day.
Dookie Day, first held in 2017 following the redevelopment of the campus’ teaching facilities and student accommodation, showcases the School of Agriculture and Food’s teaching, industry engagement, research and capabilities.
Visitors were able to discover the University's agricultural and veterinary science courses, meet students and watch presentations on what they had learned during the industry-focused Dookie Semester of the Bachelor of Agriculture, see new developments in agricultural research and technology and listen to seminars presented by scientific experts. A farmers’ market sold fresh local produce, including fruit grown at the campus.
The day started with a Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony by local Yorta Yorta man Graham Briggs.
Seminars throughout the day explored genomics and data science in crop biotechnology, soil management for environmental benefit, lab-grown meat, technology in equine veterinary medicine, the importance of farm advisers and fenceless livestock farming.
Visitors could also watch demonstrations of agricultural drones, virtual reality teaching tools that allow city-based students to see agricultural processes first-hand, biometric monitoring of meat consumers, shearing and wool classing demonstrations and tours of Dookie's student accommodation, teaching spaces, solar panel farm and glasshouse.
There were also a range of alumni-focused activities, including a morning tea, a refitted Dookie Museum and a dinner to celebrate the campus’ history and future the night before Dookie Day where 80 attendees heard presentations from Head of the School of Agriculture and Food Herbert Kronzucker and current students.
Dookie Professor in Residence Timothy Reeves delivered the keynote presentation, in which he said that while the School of Agriculture and Food produced a diverse range of graduates, they shared a common need to understand the context of the agricultural industry.
He said the Dookie experience delivers this efficiently, effectively and enjoyably.
“Listening to some of the third-year students tell their audiences that the Dookie experience was one of the best things in their life was very emotional and uplifting," he said after the lecture.
Professor Reeves also emphasised the industry experience the Dookie campus delivers to its students through frequent exposure and interactions with the 2,440-hectare commercial farm; industry excursions to farms, processors and marketers; which are complemented by visits and demonstrations from agronomists, vets and specialists from the dairy, pig, sheep and wool industries.
“The campus engages with over 40 different organisations in the Goulburn Valley region,” Professor Reeves said.
“This broad range of experiences not only makes an outstanding and valuable contribution to the education process, but also gives the students industry exposure and an insight into potential future jobs – some third-years already have job offers.”
Third-year Bachelor of Agriculture student Tiffany Miller, who has chosen to complete her studies based at the campus after completing the Dookie Semester last year, said the day exemplified the Dookie experience.
“Dookie Day really brought together the students at the campus as a family, rather than separate cohorts,” she said.
“We were able to work together to show off the campus that we are really proud of, which is what Dookie day is all about.
“We want people to love Dookie as much as we do. It’s just an overall amazing experience with some of the most amazing up and coming ‘aggies’ to enter the industry.”
Story by Stuart Winthrope. Gallery images by Shape Creative and Stuart Winthrope.