Ruby Meston: Exploring agriculture's variety on the land

Ruby Meston’s University of Melbourne journey has taken her from the inner city, to a regional farm, to wineries and, she hopes one day, to a Western Australian sheep station.

"I’m from inner Melbourne, so I never thought of agriculture as a reality – it wasn’t taught at our school and no one seemed to care about it. But my dad’s side are all from Western Australia and are within the industry, and I thought the wool pavilion at the Melbourne Show was the coolest, so one of my teachers suggested wool classing."

It was this passion for wool that led Ruby to the Diploma in General Studies (DiGS) at the University of Melbourne’s Dookie campus, which she used as credit toward a Bachelor of Agriculture.

"I originally got into agriculture at another university, but I’d heard that DiGS and Dookie was a great experience. I thought it would be a good chance for me to learn and be in the farm environment, in a close cohort, and experience the things in my text book in real life."

Student Ruby Meston at Dookie campus
Ruby Meston at the shearing shed at the University of Melbourne Dookie campus.

Ruby’s experience has opened her eyes to the scope and range of career options available through a degree in agriculture.

"We’ve worked with microwaving seeds, precision agriculture, and the robotic dairy is incredible – it’s crazy what technology can do. Agriculture’s not just a tractor, there’s a lot more to it. No matter what subject we’re in, climate change is a big portion of it. We can change the way we farm to make a sustainable future."

The breadth of experience this hands-on study program has given Ruby has been instrumental to her plans for her future.

"I’m doing an internship now on a vineyard. I’m applying chemistry and microbiology to how to make wine – plus it counts for a subject. I’ve always said viticulture is something I’d like to look in to.

"It's a great experience and I'm learning heaps, but it's shown me that wool technology and robotic shearing is my passion. It's a growing industry and they're willing to put money into drawing young people and young women, especially. I got my wool classing certificate while studying at Dookie, so I’ve worked a lot already and have been able to see myself working with wool in the future. I’ve been exploring different options for when I graduate, whether it’s a graduate program or straight into the workforce."

As someone who’s already got a bright future lined up, what advice does Ruby have for anyone interested in studying agricultural science?

"If you're thinking of going into the Bachelor of Agriculture, do DiGS. You come out with the same degree in the same time, but coming from the city, it's an eye-opening experience."

Banner image: Sheep graze on the slope of Mount Major, Dookie campus.