As nicknames go, 'Aggie' is one that lasts generations. Since La Trobe's agricultural science degrees launched in the late 1960s, thousands of agriculture students have embraced their Aggie identities – and our 1980s alumni are among them.
Earlier this year, more than 50 agricultural science alumni from 1980 to 1985 gathered for a reunion commemorating the 40th anniversary of their graduation. Attendee Peter Hemphill (Bachelor of Agricultural Sciences, 1982) offers his reflections of the event.
'The event was held at Vinea Marson in Heathcote, a winery established by 1981 graduate Mario Marson, his wife Helen and daughter Madeleine. Graduates came from all over Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland to catch up with colleagues they might not have seen for decades. Former lecturers Geoff Edwards (agricultural economics) and Simon Stuart (animal science) represented academic staff from that era,' Peter says.
Looking back on their careers, the Aggies of four decades ago have made their mark in Australia and overseas.
'They became Hollywood movie producers, university professors, senior bank executives, directors of ASX-listed companies, journalists, farm consultants, farmers, government trade commissioners, scientists and teachers. Some were AFL footballers; others bred footy stars. Two have served as mayors, another is married to the former Prime Minister of Belgium,' Peter says.
Although alumni at the reunion graduated across several years, they were linked by shared campus memories. Many of them centred around the Common Room, a space located on the ground floor of La Trobe's agriculture building. (Today, the building is named the R.L. Reid building after La Trobe's Foundation Professor of Agriculture.)
'The Common Room was a place where students would catch up between lectures or laboratory classes and get to know others, from first to fourth year,' Peter says.
'But it was also where some of the famous – or infamous – antics synonymous with agricultural science were planned: stealing outhouse dunnies; building huge hay bale walls across the moat's bridges to block students getting to class; the Great Dung Fight with the Economics Society (posing as the Merino Liberation Front), which took place on the East Lecture Theatre lawn in 1979; and the annual Woolshed Wind-up.'
For Peter and his fellow Aggies, the reunion provided a chance to relax, reflect and reminisce.
'The reunion was a great night of sharing stories, photos and a laugh or two, as well as an opportunity to fill colleagues in on life since university. All who attended would agree their years at La Trobe University were some of the most memorable of their lives.'
Keen to organise a La Trobe alumni reunion of your own? Visit our Reunions page for more information.
Top photo: 1981 Agricultural Science alumni and lecturers | Back row (L to R) Simon Stuart, Chris McColl, Rene de Jong, Rob Velthuis, Stephanie Leach, Mario Marson, David Miers, John Gude, Maria Rose, Jim Pekin, Michael Treeby, Pip Rowe | Front row (L to R) Anna Roberts, Geoff Edwards, Bruce Williams.
Middle photo: 1982 Agricultural Science alumni | Back row (L to R) Hugh McMullin, Bill Bodman, Di Stevens, Terry Gorman, Allan Hillgrove, Tony Dupleix, Ian Chesterfield, Peter Hemphill | Front row (L to R) Tony O'Connor, Janice Paulet, Kathy Shackleton.
Bottom photo: 1983 Agricultural Science alumni | Back row (L to R) Ann-Marie Monda, Wolfie Wagner, Greg Connors, Peter Campbell, Sarah Nicholas, John Petschack | Front Row (L to R) Marg Kazcmeric, Frank Dunshea, Hetty Verspay.