A PASSION for cows and dairy farming has led Merrigum teenager Matt DeCicco to study veterinary science at university.
The 18-year-old former Kyabram p-12 school student, who will begin his degree this year, was the inaugural winner of the Bill Pyle Dairy Scholarship.
This scholarship, worth $5000 a year throughout his six-year course, was awarded at a Gardiner Foundation Australian Dairy Leaders lunch in Melbourne last week.
Matt said he had always wanted to be a vet having grown up on a dairy farm with his parents, Peter and Angela, milking 150 head.
"I help out when I can, throughout last year with school I was a pretty confined with what I could do with my studies, but through holidays I help Dad out and I love it," he said.
Working outside and with animals, rearing calves, showing, breeding and genetics are all areas Matt is particularly interested in within the industry.
He makes the annual trek to International Dairy Week and local shows with his family's Mederae Holsteins.
With plans to be a large animal vet, Matt said the success of the dairy industry was crucial for his future plans as well as the entire nation.
"The dairy industry goes through a lot of tough times, it survived drought, now with milk prices," he said.
"It will come through, I think there is a future - the country can't survive without the farmers."
Meanwhile, the Cows Create Careers dairy industry school program and agricultural studies enticed Ocean Grove student Monique McMahon-Hide to pursue animal science at university.
The 17-year-old won the inaugural Doug Weir dairy scholarship worth $5000 a year for her three-year course. "At my school I did agriculture as a subject," she said.
"I started it in year nine. It was just really interesting and something I don't get to experience in my own community.
"And I really liked the cows," she said.
Monique is interested in focusing on genetics.