What prompts a highly respected and experienced palliative care nurse to leave behind the sterile white walls of a hospital for the red volcanic soils of a sweetpotato farm?
For April Jones, the answer is simple.
“I am passionate about agriculture and love growing things, so decided to follow my heart”, she says.
April is completing her second year of a Bachelor of Agriculture at CQUniversity’s Bundaberg campus and could not be happier with her new career choice.
“Here in Bundaberg, we are living in one of Australia’s fastest growing and most diverse agricultural regions and I am so excited to be part of such a thriving, innovative industry”.
As part of her university work placement, April is undertaking a research project for Sweet Potatoes Australia (SPA) studying the sweetpotato weevil.
“The sweetpotato weevil is one of the most important pests of sweetpotato around the world,” explains SPA agronomist Doug Macpherson.
“Bundaberg is Australia’s largest producers of sweetpotatoes, so any mitigation of the weevil’s impacts will reap great benefits to our industry.
“We are looking forward to the results of April’s project and how we may apply them on our farms”.
April’s work will also inform a key component of the Hinkler AgTech Initiative being delivered by CQU as part of the Hinkler Regional Deal.
The Initiative will examine the potential of a region-wide monitoring array for assessing crop pests, including the sweetpotato weevil.
The Hinkler Regional Deal is a collaboration between the Australian Government, Bundaberg Regional Council and Fraser Coast Regional Council.
Dr Richard Koech, CQU’s Head of Course for Agriculture, says April’s work placement with SPA represents the university’s commitment to providing its students with ‘real world’ experience.
“Our Bachelor of Agriculture equips students with the knowledge, critical thinking and problem-solving skills necessary for professionals working in modern agriculture.
“We are very fortunate that local agribusinesses such as Sweet Potatoes Australia can provide our students with practical and meaningful projects to apply these skills”.
Looking to the future, April says she cannot wait to begin her new career and encourages school leavers or anyone with an agricultural bent to consider undertaking a Bachelor of Agriculture at CQU.
More information about CQUniversity’s Bachelor of Agriculture can be found at https://www.cqu.edu.au/courses/bachelor-of-agriculture.