Revamped fund offers valuable support to regional students

Nov 25, 2022 | Column

Stock Journal readers may remember the E.W. Stevens Trust Fund.

The EW Stevens Trust was established in 1988 following a bequest to the-then United Farmers and Stock Owners of SA Inc. Management of this fund was later transferred to the South Australian Farmers’ Federation.

The bequest was made by the late Mr Earnest William Stevens, a retired builder from the Fleurieu Peninsula.

In his Will, Mr Stevens outlined that he wanted his bequeathment to be used to assist students in regional areas who wanted to further their education but were unable to do so due to their financial circumstances.

PPSA is proud to now be the custodian of the EW Stevens Trust.

Our organisation sees the Trust as a key vehicle to help address the inequity faced by students living in regional SA, allowing them to access educational opportunities and recognising the higher cost of living away from home.

PPSA as an organisation is eager to provide opportunities to pursue further education to regional students, as it aligns with our core values.

Applications for the fund open tomorrow (November 25) and will remain open to January 12. The fund is open to either secondary or tertiary students, or those undertaking a course through a Regional Training Organisation (RTO).

Students can access up to $5000 annually through the scholarship and it can be used to meet a range of costs. It could be a contribution towards school fees, books or other course materials, uniforms, board and accommodation, IT equipment, undertaking a study tour, or travel costs to return home from study.

PPSA has designed the application process so that it is not onerous for students or their parents.

Students will need to provide a written statement, of no more than 500 words, which outlines their future career goals and aspirations, their commitment to support rural and regional South Australia and how the funds will be used to help them overcome their financial constraints.

The fund will be awarded on a yearly basis but there is nothing stopping students from applying for further support in following years.

As the peak body for primary producers, PPSA will give applicants from a farming background a higher weighting in the application process, although being from a farm is not a necessity to apply.

A Board of Trustees has been established by PPSA to select the annual recipients.

All applicants will be notified of their success, or otherwise, by early February, to allow for planning before school or university returns.

PPSA sees the trust fund is the perfect accompaniment to the other work the organisation is undertaking in the education space.

This includes a program which PPSA has coordinated titled Educating Kids About Agriculture, a primary schools education program which provides teachers and students with hands-on, on-farm or in-school farming experience. It is aimed at engaging students in the science of agriculture and food production at an early age.

PPSA is also delivering the AgCAREERSTART program in South Australia, on behalf of the National Farmers’ Federation, which provides a 10-to-12-month gap year program and aims to foster tomorrow’s farmers. Students are matched with a host farmer and receive training and support to complete a VET course. Through the program, students receive access to industry events and a valuable network within the farming sector.

With industry calling for more workers constantly, driving students’ interest in agriculture and providing opportunities for further learning will be key in helping attract labour to our sector.

PPSA is proud to be able to offer support to help make this possible and will continue to explore opportunities to promote further learning.

This column was written by PPSA Chair Professor Simon Maddocks and first appeared in November 24, 2022 edition of the Stock Journal.

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