School excursions to foster Ag careers and break stereotypes
VICTORIAN school students of all ages would make organised visits to farms in a bid to get more young people familiar with farming and considering a career in agriculture, under a proposal by the Victorian Farmers Federation.
The VFF says the school visits could operate alongside programs such as Farm Day, an event that encourages families in Australian cities to spend a day at a farm, to enable young people to learn about rural life and meet farmers.
It calls for the program in its pre-budget submission to Treasurer Kim Wells, asking for funding of $250,000 that would also pay for an agricultural careers adviser to promote the field to students and teachers, and the development of ”local mentors and champions for the agriculture cause”.
Vice-president of the VFF, David Jochinke, said the agriculture sector had not promoted itself well in the past, and nor had it had a program in schools spreading the message about the wide range of job opportunities.
”We really want to get a closer connection with students as they’re formulating their career paths [and encourage them] to consider agriculture,” he said.
”Hopefully gaining awareness of the industry, but then also showing them the opportunities of the very different careers. It’s not just sitting on tractors, it can be lab work, it can be technical assistance, it can be marketing, selling, preparation, transport – all the different things that go into agriculture,” he said.
”We’ve got to break down the stereotype that you’re sitting on a tractor when you’re in agriculture. In reality, that’s nowhere near as big a percentage of the work as it used to be. The secondary service industries are the growing sector for agriculture. That’s everything that leads up to the farmer’s gate and beyond the farmer’s gate,” he said.
The submission also calls for a range of other changes affecting fields such as taxation, native vegetation management, groundwater and electricity costs.