A thirst for knowledge
Country Education Foundation and Audi Foundation – Enabling excellence.
courtesy Ben Grant and ANU
14 November, 2018
Born and bred in Temora, the heart of the grain growing area of southern NSW, Benjamin Grant knew from a young age that science was for him. Raised on a wheat and canola farm, Ben was always fascinated with the earth, so turning that passion into a career was no quantum leap.
With Year 12 barely in his rear view mirror, Ben received his acceptance into the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra and was off to study a Bachelor of Science.
“I knew I wanted to go to ANU. At ANU there’s a lot of work done with Canola. Canola’s a pretty good organism to use with genetic engineering, and breeding strategies; and we look at how it can improve yield and quality of crops in Australia, which is important especially when we’re in a drought. There are a lot of environmental factors in Australia that other countries don’t have to deal with as much, and so long term, I’m planning to work with genes,” explains Ben.
Located two and a half hours from his hometown, Ben knew he would have to uproot and move to Australia’s capital in order to study; but, not unlike many other teenagers living in rural and remote areas, the emotional, physical and financial challenges that come with moving to a major metropolitan centre were front and centre of his decision making.
"...Benjamin Grant knew from a young age that science was for him."
"“I received a grant from the Temora and District Education Fund and through the interview they forwarded my application to the Audi Foundation."
Enter the Temora and District Education Fund. One of 43 local community foundations within the Country Education Foundation's portfolio, this foundation was established to provide much needed financial assistance and support to local youth in Temora and surrounds, to help them achieve their post high school education, training and vocation aspirations. Led by community leaders, teachers, business leaders, local identities, and passionate people from all walks of life, Ben was encouraged to apply for a grant.
“I received a grant from the Temora and District Education Fund and through the interview they forwarded my application to the Audi Foundation. A few months after I received the original grant, I received the Audi scholarship.”
“I couldn’t drive in from Temora daily so I had to find accommodation and on campus, which is really expensive. But you can really benefit from staying on campus; it’s a good study environment, there are a lot of facilities you can go to and take advantage of. While it doesn’t cover my rent, it goes towards it as well as my course fees.
I work for harvest on the farm when I go home in the holidays. So with that and the scholarship it gets me through. It’s taken a lot of pressure off. Plus it’s good to know your home community supports you and you’re not just going through it alone.”
“Uni is a lot different to high school, especially in a small high school like Temora where there’s roughly 30 people in a class and everything’s very personal. When you move to a big university there’s not that help so you have to become a lot more independent; I was also an independent studier back then, but you really have to be on top of your study. And then all of sudden you have to do all your own household chores. You miss your parents and your family and your friends too but because Canberra is only two and a half hours away I get back there.”
Many of the CEF alumni will return to their communities and other regional communities to give back in an effort to help develop rural and regional Australia. So while the program emotionally and physically empowers young minds to learn, this process is also opening up wonderfully affirming high-level conversations around the importance of a strong rural and regional area, and as a result, the whole country benefits.
Now in his second year, Ben would consider working in the Temora region after finishing his degree if there was an opportunity to utilise his Bachelor of Science skills testing crops, citing that Temora is ‘the most relevant place to him’. Relevant yes, and as seen through the work conducted by CEF, the community of Temora is also incredibly encouraging as they continue in their support of their young people.
"...this process is also opening up wonderfully affirming high-level conversations around the importance of a strong rural and regional area, and as a result, the whole country benefits."
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