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Beyond the Bale : June 2017
Sandra Ireson, who helped found the Hay Inc Rural Education Program in 2014, has been awarded the 2017 NSW-ACT Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) Rural Women’s Award. Sandra, who farms near Booligal in the Riverina of western NSW with husband Matt, wins a $10,000 bursary which she will use to develop an adaptable model of the Hay Inc program that can be implemented in other rural communities across Australia. The Hay Inc program was launched in 2014 in response to concerns about the decline in the traditional jackaroo/jillaroo system in the region and the associated lack of essential rural skills being handed down to the younger generation. AWI has supported the Hay Inc program each year since its inception. "The initiative was first established in Hay to address the markedly reduced numbers of young people entering or staying in the agriculturally dependent community,” Sandra said. “Through the Hay Inc program young people are being given the opportunity to learn the practical agricultural skills needed for them to get jobs on rural properties. It focuses on wool and livestock production and takes place in a practical setting in partnership with local woolgrowers. “The program is delivered by trainers who have many years of experience on extensive JACKAROO/ JILLAROO TRAINING COURSE SET TO EXPAND A successful hands-on stockmanship training course being run at Hay for young people is set to be replicated in other rural communities, thanks to Sandra Ireson of the Hay Inc Rural Education Program who has been awarded a $10,000 bursary as the NSW-ACT winner of the RIRDC Rural Women’s Award. rural properties, covering topics based around the production calendar for sheep, wool production and cattle. There are 15 youngsters enrolled in this year’s program that will conclude on 17 June at the Hay Merino Sheep Show.” Since its inception, the Hay Inc program has proved very successful for the Hay region. Sandra says that thanks to the new bursary, an adaptable model will be developed to allow for similar positive benefits to be realised across other NSW rural communities. “The Hay Inc program has received a lot of positive publicity, and so I quite often receive queries from people in other regions asking for information and advice on how to set up a program like Hay Inc in their community. This was especially the case following the ABC’s Landline feature on the program in 2015. “Furthermore, we have a limit of 15 trainees in the Hay Inc course, to keep it practical and hands-on, so it would be great to expand the model into other areas and give more young people an opportunity to enrol in such a course. “I’ll be creating a toolkit that explains how to go about setting up a course similar to Hay Inc, including the best ways to obtain volunteers, engage with agencies and seek funding. I’ll then be promoting the toolkit with the result hopefully that similar courses will be set up by locals in other areas of the country. “As well as helping train young people the practical skills needed to work in agriculture, it will also hopefully create a network of young people across the country telling their friends and peers about the benefits of a career in agriculture.” Sandra was presented with the Rural Women’s Award at a ceremony in April – attended by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro and NSW Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair – where she credited and thanked all the fantastic volunteers involved in Hay Inc and the local land holders including TA Field Estates’ ‘Wyvern’ who are paramount in the success of the rural education program. “Sandra recognised there was a need in her community and co-developed an educational pathway that provides hands-on training, mentoring and networking for young people starting out in primary industries,” Mr Blair said. “We know it is the next generation that will take what we do today and see it succeed in the years to come so programs like this, particularly in our regional areas, are vital.” Sandra will now go on to compete for the National RIRDC Rural Women’s Award later this year, in which she could win additional bursaries. MORE INFORMATION www.hayinc.com.au Some of the participants in this year’s Hay Inc program being instructed in stock water maintenance. PHOTO: Cara Jeffery, ABC Rural. Sandra Ireson, who helped found the Hay Inc Rural Education Program, is the NSW-ACT winner of the RIRDC Rural Women’s Award. 54 ON FARM