Heidi Montgomery, the daughter of western-NSW sheep farmers, is the first recipient of a $300,000 Dalara Foundation scholarship to support her veterinary science studies.
The Dalara Foundation scholarship is for a student from regional or remote Australia, providing $50,000 per annum for six years.
Funded by a philanthropic gift from the Dalara Foundation, the scholarship is the largest the University has ever offered for a veterinary science student.
When Heidi, now 18-years-old, was aged 12, she and her older sister started a flock of 15 ewes, which they bred for their meat. Six years later that mob of sheep has grown to 60 and finances the running of the sisters’ cars.
Heidi, her sister and younger twin brothers have always helped on the family farm and Heidi’s love of agriculture and interest in it at as a career started at an early age. Her parents’ 6000- acre sheep farm is in Trangie, Western NSW, where they have lived for 20 years. Originally working as wheat farmers, they turned to sheep farming, with a focus on meat, about five years ago. When the impact of the drought hit the central west hard, the farm had to be destocked because the animals couldn’t be fed. Her parents are still pursuing sheep farming but need to restock the farm with suitable breeding stock to get back to maximum capacity.
“When I was in Year 10 I did work experience with a local Dubbo vet. I worked with small animals but was also hands-on with horses and livestock. The whole experience made me sure of the career I wanted,” said Heidi.
“I’ve seen first-hand how much damage can be done to a farm if disease takes hold of animals and I also know there is a shortage of vets in rural areas, so I’d love to come back here and apply my knowledge when I graduate.”
Veterinary medicine is an expensive degree and students often reach the maximum debt they can incur through the HECS/FEE-HELP scheme. The Dalara scholarship is generous enough that the recipient will graduate with minimal or no debt. The scholarship will:
“I applied as soon as I was accepted for the course at the University and saw the scholarship online,” said Heidi. “Receiving the scholarship is a massive help, especially with accommodation costs in Sydney.”
The Dalara Foundation is the philanthropic foundation of Allan and Lyn Davies. The Foundation has been supporting the Sydney School of Veterinary Science since 2009, including a major gift of $250,000 supporting research into equine disease, including the Hendra virus.
Professor Paul Sheehy, Acting Head of School and Dean, Sydney School of Veterinary Science, said: “The incredibly generous philanthropic support from donors like the Dalara Foundation can be transformative, not only to the recipient but to the broader community who will benefit from access to a highly trained veterinarian with the skills and expertise developed through the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degree Program. The school congratulates Heidi as the worthy recipient of this significant award.”
Heidi hopes to soon meet the Davies, who also own farms in NSW and Queensland. Record NSW floods prevented an earlier meeting going ahead.