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Beyond the Bale : September 2014
ON FARM 53 Inspiring young people to imagine a future for themselves in agriculture is the driving force behind the Discover Agriculture programs, supported partly by AWI. The programs have been held in Tasmania since 2008 and in Victoria during the past two years. Run by Rural Skills Australia’s Tasmanian Education and Training Adviser, Roger Tyshing, the programs are aimed at students in Years 9–12. Three, week-long programs have been held so far this year. One in April, in the north- east region of Tasmania, the second in the Gippsland region of Victoria in May, and the third last month based in the north and north-west of Tasmania. “The aim is to provide students with a greater understanding of the diverse career and training opportunities in agriculture,” Roger said. “The residential programs provide participants with a great experience for themselves, but they also return to their schools and become ‘champions for agriculture’ and inform other students of the wide variety of careers available.” The April program was attended by 20 students from all around Tasmania. One of the highlights was a visit to the Roberts Wool Store at Western Junction where students had a chance to handle some of the best quality fleeces produced in Tasmania, learn about the attributes of wool and later back at camp have a go at matching different styles of wool with their end product. The May program was attended by eleven students and included a visit to a Merino stud and a mixed sheep and cropping enterprise with a chance to get hands-on with some quality fleeces and earmarking of lambs. To explore the next steps available to those wanting to get into the wool industry an extra one-day tour was organised in July for students from the Northern Midlands region of Tasmania. Twelve students, from three schools, travelled to the Malahide shearing shed in the Fingal Valley, where an AWI supported shearing school was being held. “Getting some hands-on experience is critical to decide if you like the type of work in any industry,” Roger said. “At Malahide, students were shown how to skirt fleeces by a wool classing trainer and an expert competition woolhandler. “In a very short amount of time the students were able to experience the very best aspects of handling wool, a beautiful fine white fleece and lanolin on the hands, and arguably the worst of wool handling, the sudden jab of a thistle in the end of a finger! They were also treated to a demonstration of blade shearing and modern shearing technique by the Tasmanian and Victorian shearing trainers. “All four trainers explained the wonderful opportunities a career in the wool industry can provide and the different pathways a young person can pursue. Several students expressed an interest in joining the next shearing school in January 2015.” Since 2008, more than 200 students have passed through the Discover Agriculture program. Sixty per cent are now either working in the agricultural industry, involved in training at a Certificate II or III level or studying agriculture at university. At the Malahide shearing school the students caught up with a former Discover Agriculture student, Tom Squires, who attended the 2011 program. Since completing school, Tom has taken up a career in the wool industry, working as a woolhandler and learning to shear, as well as undertaking training as a wool classer. “There are vast and rewarding opportunities for young people in agriculture, so it’s always a great thrill to see past participants like Tom working in the industry and enjoying what they are doing,” Roger added. ENCOURAGING CAREERS IN AGRICULTURE FAST FACTS • Three, week-long residential programs have been held this year, plus an extra one- day tour focused on working in the shearing shed. • Participants return to their schools as ‘champions for agriculture’ and inform other students of the wide variety of careers available. The Discover Agriculture program, supported by AWI, is helping students from Tasmania and Victoria learn about the diverse range of career opportunities available in agriculture. MORE INFORMATION Roger Tyshing M 0438 514 560 E firstname.lastname@example.org www.ruralskills.com.au Students at the Malahide shearing shed: getting some hands-on experience is critical to decide if you like the type of work.