2015 Academic Bursary Program recipients announced

The second year of the SSAA’s student grants initiative, the SSAA Academic Bursary Program, has been rolled out with financial backing for five individuals. The students are all undergraduates, whose study of subject matter falls neatly into line with the philosophies and objectives of the SSAA. Four of the students have been allocated donations of $1000 to assist them with their education passage, while the fifth will receive financial backing to the tune of $2000.

This second instalment of the SSAA scheme departs from the format of the initial round, which involved students embracing courses at post-graduate or doctorate level. SSAA National CEO Tim Bannister explained the thinking behind the awards.

“I see this as a unique opportunity to get in at the ‘ground level’ with these individuals and work with them, as they complete their studies to further the Association’s goals,” he said. “I would consider these ‘encouragement’ bursaries, as I can see potential for us to utilise their studies to contribute to the preservation of our sport and recreation.”

Ellen Freeman

One of the lucky five is Ellen Freeman, 23, who is studying for a Bachelor of Science, with a major in Ecology and Conservation Biology, at Central Queensland University in Rockhampton. The course runs for three years and will be all done by October 2016.

Ellen is originally from Longford in Tasmania but currently lives in Yeppoon, where she has moved to complete her studies. The money from the SSAA will give her precious financial assistance with education materials to fulfil her course requirements, which she describes as “a large commitment, financially, mentally and socially”.

She was thrilled to learn of her award success. “I am very pleased, excited and thankful that I was selected as a bursary recipient,” said Ellen. “I am a passionate and keen deer hunter. I hold a great passion for wildlife and the environment. I am dedicating my studies and future career to these passions. I want to be able to make a positive impact on deer, deer hunting, wildlife and environmental management and research in Australia.”

“I have previously successfully completed two short courses by correspondence on deer and deer management. In 2011, I completed ‘Game Management - The Science of Sustainable Use’ from The University of Queensland. In 2012, I also successfully completed a ‘Deer Steward’ course from the University of Georgia (US) in partnership with the Quality Deer Management Association. I am dedicating my study and future career pursuits to wildlife, the environment and the management of the two.”

Ellen is a financial member of the SSAA and occasionally shoots at the Rockhampton Branch’s range. “They offer great facilities to their members,” she said. “I am also interested in becoming involved with the Rockhampton Branch. I work casually in retail throughout university semesters and with university commitments it’s all a challenge, but I am willing to make time to become further involved with the SSAA.”

And from October after the term finishes, Ellen hopes to embark on a research project looking at the interaction of deer and humans in the Rocky Mountains in Canada. “A PhD student has been over there doing work with bears, but I have all the data at the Queensland campus to be able to work from here,” she said.

Jacqueline Richards

Jacqueline Richards, 21, has been awarded $1000 for assistance with education materials as she aims to wrap up an Arts degree in Criminology and English Literature at The University of Queensland at the St Lucia campus in Brisbane. She is in the final year of her course, which will hopefully conclude successfully for her in November.

Jacqueline, who lives in the Flinders View suburb of Ipswich, comes from a military family and has been brought up around firearms in professional and recreational situations. She hopes to either follow in her father’s footsteps and become a member of the Australian Defence Force or Cabout the Defence Force option.

“I have been fortunate enough so far in my Criminology major to receive exposure at a tertiary level to the issues surrounding Australian and foreign policies, specifically pertaining to gun laws and border protection,” she said.

“Criminology endeavours to educate and instil in its students and the community on their rights and interests. My degree has given me experience and the opportunity to interact with people who have differing opinions and outlooks to myself and taught me to appreciate and debate my point. Just as the SSAA abides by a strict code of ethics, criminology, psychology and sociological researching involve and demand a high level of ethical behaviour and appreciation of privacy issues.”

Jacqueline may be on the last lap of her push for a degree, but there have been sacrifices along the way, so she is grateful for the SSAA funding. “I pay my university fees upfront, as I find debt unwarranted so early in life when I can work hard and pay for it,” she said. “I work part-time at a local restaurant bartending and waitressing and have been working since shortly after my 15th birthday. While I enjoy the independence and experience that working offers, extra financial assistance will not go astray.

“I’m excited about winning the award. I have just got the latest bill for my fees and, believe me, this will really take a lot of pressure off and lighten the load.”

Nick Armstrong

Nick Armstrong will welcome the $1000 he will pick up from the SSAA for assistance with education materials as he pursues a Bachelor of Science (Geography) degree at the University of Melbourne.

Twenty-year-old Nick, from Toolern Vale in Victoria, has a sporting background, listing tennis (as an accredited coach) and trekking among his pursuits. He has completed the Mount Everest Base Camp trek and also run the Melbourne Marathon. As a member of the SSAA for the past six years, another of his prime passions is recreational shooting, particularly hunting.

“To gain the award is excellent for me,” said Nick. “It will take a lot of the strain away from worrying about things like paying for field trips.”

Nick is in the second year of his three-year course and after its conclusion, he wants to study law. “I’m going to try for Melbourne Law School so I hope they look favourably on my eventual application,” he said.

“I have had many experiences involving recreational shooting, both in ranges and hunting, and have developed a high value and appreciation of the environment and its occupants,” said Nick, whose love of the environment prompted him to choose geography as his subject. Eventually he hopes to specialise in environmental law.

“With my background in science and the environment, plus future studies in law, I believe I would be an ideal candidate for furthering the community’s knowledge of the environment and recreational shooting. Hunting-wise, it’s mainly shooting rabbits and foxes around our property, which covers about 20 acres.”

His studies must almost feel like a breather for Nick, who reckons he spends about five hours a week coaching tennis, then he fits in more time to play. The answering machine on his mobile phone actually tells the caller that he is ‘probably out playing tennis’. On top of that, he estimates that he puts in two to three hours per week hunting. At least Nick can relax, knowing that the bursary award has eased any stress on the learning side.

Millie Moss

Millie Moss has had to juggle the demands of being the mother of two young children with continuing her work on her Bachelor of Social Work at Griffith University on the Logan campus. So the $2000 allotted to her for a new laptop and/or school fees and books from the SSAA scheme will come as a godsend.

“The bursary program has the ability to change both mine and my family’s life profoundly,” said 26-year-old Millie. “Currently, my fiancé and two young children are making great financial sacrifices so that I have the opportunity to study. The cost of daycare is absolutely crippling. The bursary program cash will ease a great portion of the burden on childcare costs and place much less strain on my family and also give me more study time. I am very excited to receive the scholarship and this will assist me in the costs of studying and I thank Sporting Shooters’ for giving me this opportunity.”

Now Millie, who lives in Shailer Park, Queensland, can look ahead to where her studies may take her. And to reach this far, she has already overcome much adversity.

“I have entered tertiary education as a mature age student with the intention of using my life experience and higher education to better the lives of others,” said Millie. “I had a very turbulent youth as I got involved very young with the wrong crowd and left school early.”

Millie managed to turn things around by gaining a job in a law firm as a junior and finishing a legal traineeship. Presently, her five-year degree course encompasses elements of health, environment, sociology and sciences such as biology and psychology.

Having grown up on a farm, Millie has inherited a love for wildlife, the bush and outdoor activities. She enjoyed equestrianism, dirt bikes, shooting and skinning rabbits. She is still a keen shooter and has firm views about how she can be “a voice for rational and moral sporting shooting”. She feels that hunting delivers “a connect with our food and promotes respect for the animals involved”.

“Issues with world food security and carbon emissions from livestock are to me closely linked with mass overconsumption,” said Millie. “I firmly believe mass overconsumption stems from our disconnect to the meat we are purchasing from multinational conglomerates who have it neatly packaged and marketed with little reference to the organism it originated from.”

With such a crusading spirit, Millie would like to make her “impact at a macro level”.

“I find study very interesting and challenging and am looking at pursuing a career in social policy writing,” she said. “I work part time for the Griffith School of Human Services and Social Work as a research assistant, predominantly on disability publication projects. I would like to be able to advocate for Sporting Shooters’ in the community promoting both ethical and sustainable practice.”

Ryan McLean

Ryan McLean took the hard road to earn his place at the University of Canberra, where he is in the first year of his Bachelor of Environmental Science degree. Nineteen-year-old keen hunter Ryan made the move from the small town of Narrandera in rural New South Wales to life on campus at Cooper Lodge, UC’s newest student residence. But that upheaval must seem a breeze compared to the tough trek that Ryan made to fulfil his dream of landing an opening at undergraduate level. And his long-term aim is to embark on a career as a parks ranger.

“I left school when I was in Year 11 and began a cabinetmaking apprenticeship. But around a year after starting my apprenticeship, I realised it wasn’t for me,” he said. “I was raised in the outdoors and that is where my passion lies. My father taught me from a young age how to respect the bush and everything that lives in it. He is an ethical hunter and has passed that passion and knowledge on to me.”

So in early 2014 Ryan took part in the UCanReach program, a course that provides students who have not finished high school with an alternative pathway into university. From there, the long haul began for Ryan.

“I drove to Griffith, which is a two-hour return trip, two nights a week for four months and completed the course with an ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank) of 86 out of a possible 88. This enabled me to enrol and be accepted for my course at the University of Canberra.

“With my degree I hope to gain a role as a parks ranger so I can do my part in helping with SSAA’s conservation efforts by preserving what native species we have left. Also, I can inform others about how important it is to control feral animals and overpopulated native species through ethical and sustainable hunting. I am a strong believer in the SSAA’s code of ethics and try to pass this knowledge on to anybody thinking about getting into hunting.”

To help Ryan achieve his aims and initially push on with his degree, the SSAA has allocated $1000 for him to assist with education materials. Ryan was ecstatic when he was told the news about his being one of the award winners.

“I was absolutely stoked to be offered the bursary and it is going to help me so much with my rent at Canberra,” he said. “It’s an honour to even be considered for the bursary from SSAA let alone win it. I’m very passionate about non-bias and informative conversation about hunting and recreational shooting. I can’t wait to be able to get out there with my degree as a parks ranger, working with licensed and law-abiding hunters, not against them.”

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