With only limited exposure to hands-on farming, Kooringal High School students, Amelia Aicken and Ellen McIntyre, are nevertheless embracing the agricultural industry as a possible and future career path.
Each has been studying agriculture as a component of their school curriculum, at one of the high schools based in Wagga Wagga, and they recently attended the annual Agricultural Science Enrichment Day held in the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation.
I think that really impressed me to pursue a career in agriculture ... it was really fascinating
Graham Centre Industry Partnerships and Communications Manager Ms Toni Nugent said, the aim is to give high school students an insight into the work done by professional agricultural and animal scientists.
"The students took part in practical hands-on activities and we hope to inspire them to consider a career in primary industries and science,” Ms Nugent said..
"The Graham Centre is focused on research to increase the productivity, profitability and sustainability of the grains and red meat industries throughout the value chain.
"We want to encourage young people in our rural communities to be interested in this research and this is a great way of showcasing what we do and how they can become involved in the future.”
Some of the activities students were able to embrace included live animal assessment, rice grain quality, the health benefits of rice and pasture species assessment.
Ms Aicken came away from the event greatly encouraged to continue following her decision to study agriculture at high school.
“I think that really impressed me to pursue a career in agriculture,” she said.
“It was fascinating and I learnt how interesting agriculture was.”
The grandparents of Ms McIntyre farm west of Lochkart, and that connection influenced her choice of study.
“Agriculture feeds everybody, keeps everybody healthy and happy and that is very important,” she said.
“It is a great career choice, there are so many different opportunities and it doesn’t matter if you are female or male.”
Secondary students keen on agriculture
Head agriculture teacher at the Kooringal High School, based in Wagga Wagga, Stephen Reynolds said he has a lot of interest for his classes from students with little or no previous farming experience.
“There is a fair bit of interest in agriculture here at Kooringal, with all of my classes full and many students planning on turning their experience into studying at university or TAFE,” he said.
“Starting with year seven through to year 12, they are all a very keen group of students.”
Mr Reynolds said his students are interested in a variety of tertiary study options, with some considering vet or animal science at university with others contemplating a three unit course at TAFE.
With 30 students the maximum for each class, Mr Reynolds said he has two year 10 classes this year along with full compliment in the other years.
“In year seven, we start with a ‘taster’ for two terms, starting with vegetables, but they do come out and get involved with the animals we have on our farm,” he said.
“In years nine and ten, we start getting into the science of agriculture, looking at the differences between plant species and animal species.”
In years 11 and 12, a two-unit agriculture course is studied, concentrating further on the science of agriculture.
“We are looking at Genetic Modified (GM) cropping, and Artificial Insemination (AI),” Mr Reynolds said.
“Charles Sturt University helps out with lecturing and practice on those subjects, especially with AI our cow and Poll Dorset ewes.”
Troy Piercy is one student studying agriculture at Kooringal High School with a view to taking tertiary studies to fulfill his career interests.
“I hope to go to university to do a course to get started,” he said.