All it took was a few summers at her aunt and uncles farm in Bundaberg before Elizabeth Lazell was hooked on country life and set on a future in the fields.
Early last year she made the transition from Brisbane to regional Queensland permanent to complete her Bachelor of Agriculture at CQUniversity with the aim to immerse herself in the agriculture industry, both through study and hands-on experience.
“My holidays in Bundaberg really kindled my passion and inspired me to find out how to care for the land and yield quality crops and livestock from it,” Ms Lazell said.
“It was a big change going from a large city, but I knew CQUniversity in Bundaberg would provide me with the best education, resources and experience.”
This turned out to be true as only a year into her degree she was offered the opportunity to complete work experience at Australia’s largest producer of chilli, Austchilli, which led to a permanent position with the company.
“It gave me an extensive amount of practical knowledge and skills that a classroom just can’t teach you,” she said.
“While I have now moved into another role that focuses on product and the cattle industry, I am grateful to explore all aspects of the industry while at uni,
“I would highly recommend work experience to anyone coming into the industry, it was an incredible learning experience to coincide with my studies.”
While a part of the agronomy team at Austchilli, Ms Lazell was exposed to innovative practices and a strong sustainability agenda which she will utilise throughout her career.
“I am an avid believer that the future of agriculture and the global environment sits with the implementation of sustainable farming practices,” she explained.
“I have worked to test soil, leaves, and fruit to monitor nutrient levels, conduct research and development trials on all of our products, create targeted fertiliser, chemical, and biological applications to suit the crops whilst minimising the negative effects on the environment.
“I spent a lot of my time researching and trialling new products and practices to increase fruit quality and decrease our environmental impacts; trials such as alternatives to plastic mulch, pollination aids for bees and flies, and alternative chemicals to replace the harsher industry-standard ones.
“We need more enthusiastic, forward-thinking people to come into the industry to help us ensure that future generations have a healthy planet and a good supply of food.”
Looking to the future, Ms Lazell is proud to see that countless other women like herself had decided to pursue a career in the industry.
“I have worked with amazing women in the industry from all kinds of companies, so I do believe women are stepping into agricultural roles.
“In fact, half of my cohort who are studying their Bachelor of Ag in Bundy are women!
“I encourage women to come into the industry, as there are plenty of opportunities, and companies are very keen to employ enthusiastic, forward-thinking people, no matter their gender.”