Meet Julia Petrou:
Julia Petrou is a 4th year Bachelors of Science student, studying Animal Biology with an expected graduation coming up in Spring of 2023. Julia is spending the summer working on a pasture management project under professor Kimberley Schneider and OMAFRA specialist Christine O'Reilly where she is working on calibrating a device called a rising plate meter to be more accurate for Ontario pastures. Part of Julia’s work includes travelling to Exeter every week to monitor grass growth in order to benefit producers who utilize pastures as a way of feeding their animals. Julia tells us more about a day in the life of her summer job, her favourite parts about the role, what skills she has developed, and how she plans to use this experience moving forward!
How did you find out about your role under professor Kimberley Schneider and OMAFRA specialist Christine O'Reilly?
“I found this amazing opportunity through the Experience Guelph website job postings. One of my professors had mentioned that they had posted some USEL positions that would be great learning opportunities and so I followed up!”
Tell us more about this role! What does a day-in-the-life look like for you?
“The thing I love about this job is that no two days are the same! Every Monday I take grass growth measurements and samples out on a beef and lamb farm in Exeter, Ontario which are a part of my research study to calibrate a device called a rising plate meter for Ontario pastures. The other days of the week I typically travel out to the Elora Research Station and assist Professor Schneider's masters students with their own research projects such as soil sampling, grass and legume sorting, and plot harvesting. I also write weekly reports and have team meetings to help producers make informed management decisions for their livestock.”
In your opinion, what is the most interesting thing you've done in this role so far, or your favourite thing that you've learned so far? Why?
“Something that I love about this job is that it has allowed me to see a side of animal production and agriculture that I have never explored before! I've always been so focused directly on the animal side; I never got the chance to take a step back and look at all the behind-the-scenes elements of what it takes to raise livestock. I've also been able to meet so many amazing people and make connections with those in the plant agriculture department as well as OMAFRA specialists.”
What impact do you hope to have through the research being done in this role?
“I'm hoping that the work I'm doing this summer involving calibrating the rising plate meter for Ontario pastures will be able to help producers make informed management decisions and better utilize their pastures through precision agriculture! In the future this can help make farming more sustainable and cost effective for producers using pasture to feed their livestock.”
What skills are you developing this summer?
“Some skills I've developed over the course of the summer have been data analysis, report writing, creating spreadsheets, public speaking, plant sorting and harvesting, and soil sampling just to name a few! I've also been able to work collaboratively with other students, professors, advisors, and producers, so teamwork and social skills have also been utilized a lot this summer!”
How will these skills help you with your future plans?
“I'll be taking everything that I've learned and developed this summer forward with me into the upcoming school year as well as into my future career! I'm hoping to continue my education by starting a master's degree after I finish my current program, and this job has been so crucial in demonstrating the type of research I'd like to pursue. All the skills that I've developed and connections that I've made through this job will be valuable assets going forward; I can't wait to see what's next!”
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
“Don't be afraid to put yourself out there and apply for jobs that are out of your comfort zone! Learning skills in areas you've never explored before can be such an amazing tool.”