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Beyond the Bale : September 2019
30 ON FARM How can regional communities stop younger generations from leaving and moving to the city – and provide opportunities for hands-on farming skills and on-farm experiences to young people from towns and cities? This is a question that has been asked in many communities across rural Australia. Help is now at hand, with the publication by Sandra Ireson of a 20-page manual that shows how the Hay community in NSW came together to establish the very successful Hay Inc Rural Education Program. The manual provides an adaptable model that can be implemented in other rural communities across Australia. “The decline in the traditional jackaroo/ jillaroo system in the Hay region and the associated lack of essential rural skills being handed down to the younger generation resulted in markedly reduced numbers of young people entering or staying in this agriculturally dependent community. This is what prompted the establishment and launch of the Hay Inc Rural Education Program in 2014,” Sandra said. “Through the Hay Inc program young people are now 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 rural properties, covering topics based around the production calendar for sheep, wool production and cattle. There were 15 youngsters enrolled in this year’s program that concluded at the Hay Merino Sheep Show in June. “This year we celebrated five years’ success of the program with the inaugural Hay Inc Rural Education Program Alumni Networking Event, held at Shear Outback in Hay on the eve of the Hay Merino Sheep Show. Graduates of the program attended the event, meeting graduates from other year groups and networking with volunteer trainers, industry representatives and sponsors.” HOWTOSETUPA STOCKMANSHIP TRAINING COURSE IN YOUR RURAL COMMUNITY Sandra Ireson of the Hay Inc Rural Education Program has developed an adaptable model of its successful hands-on stockmanship training course for young people, which can be implemented in other rural communities across Australia. REPLICATING THE HAY INC TRAINING COURSE Sandra, who farms near Booligal in the Riverina of western NSW with husband Matt and their children, was awarded the 2017 NSW-ACT AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award, winning a $10,000 bursary which she has used to set up Engage Ag, the project that has developed the adaptable model of the Hay Inc program. “In Hay NSW, we ‘built’ a school using the knowledge and experience of local landholders and business folk who volunteered their time to teach young people how to be jackaroos and jillaroos. The Engage Ag manual shows how we did it; your rural community can do it too.” Sandra Ireson, Engage Ag The Hay Inc program has delivered substantial benefits to the Hay region and Sandra says the development of an adaptable model aims to bring similar positive benefits to other rural communities across Australia. “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,” said Sandra. “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. “The Engage Ag manual 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.” MORE INFORMATION The Engage Ag manual is available on the Hay Inc website www.hayinc.com.au or contact Sandra Ireson directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0439 938 119. Sandra Ireson, who helped found the Hay Inc Rural Education Program in 2014, is helping other rural communities through her Engage Ag project which she established with the help of a bursary from winning the 2017 NSW-ACT AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award.
In the Shops - September 2019