School students in Albury and Wagga Wagga are a step closer to joining the agriculture industry following the AgriFutures career day - which helped shatter some long-held myths about working in the industry.
Year nine and ten students had the opportunity to engage with some dynamic young professionals working in agriculture; highlighting the varied career options from biotechnicians and marine scientists to agricultural engineers and economists.
Agriculture and biology teacher Sarah Rae, from Scots high school in Albury, said the students weren't sure what to expect, but they thoroughly enjoyed the workshops with the AgriFutures team - (they were particularly fascinated about insect farming!)
"Many of our students are lucky enough to live on farms, or have had exposure to the more 'traditional' careers in agriculture, so hearing about careers like agricultural engineering was exciting," Ms Rae said.
"When interacting with students from other schools to brainstorm ideas around engaging young people in the agricultural industry, it became apparent that opportunity was the key; opportunities to experience all that the ag industry has to offer, and not just careers that exist on farms, but the 'cool careers' in ag that they never knew even existed."
"This awareness is crucial in encouraging students to consider agricultural pathways and pursue further education or training in the field."
AgriFutures Australia manager, workforce delivery, Abbey O'Callaghan said the students were challenged to answer the question 'How do we rethink agriculture?'
"Some of the world's biggest challenges are directly related to agriculture: food security, sustainability and climate change. The workshops will challenge perceptions of the agriculture industry and galvanise the next generation of agricultural innovators," Ms O'Callaghan said.
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Paige Braybrook, a year ten student from Xavier high school in Llandilo, said she now has a better understanding of the job opportunities in the ag industry.
"I don't come from a farm and I study the subject and now I have a better connection to the subject for future prospects. I'd only ever seen the industry as farming and machinery when it actually is more than that. it is a career for females and the stereotype should be broken open; females can definitely work in this area," Ms Braybrook said.
Now, she said she is beginning to consider a career in the industry.
"I love being around animals so I'm thinking of a career as a vet. After going out onto the farm and seeing how everything worked and the number of animals was eye-opening. Seeing more than 700 chickens in a couple of spaces was so interesting."
Bonnie Holmes, who is also in year ten at Xavier high school, said the careers day has helped her re-evaluate what life working in agriculture is all about.
"It's not all just driving in a tractor and being on a farm, it can be digital which some people might like. The careers day has definitely helped me clarify my decision to move into ag and do a course in the ag space. I don't come from a farm but my grandparents work on a farm and I've been furthering my exposure and education in this field," Ms Holmes said.
She'd also like to encourage other students who are curious about what working in agriculture actually involves.
"I'd tell other students not to be scared to try it out. It could be something you like and there is a wide range of areas in which to work. Having young people be exposed to agriculture will help them understand that there are lots of jobs and careers out there other than traditional farming," Ms Holmes said.
Ms Rae said it's exciting to know there are so many young people interested and passionate about the ag industry.
"We just need to make sure we get them exposed to the opportunities that exist and we don't lose them to other industries. We need ongoing support from people in the industry, to provide our students with resources and opportunities to experience the broad range of careers first hand," Ms Roe said.
"This could include work experience programs, mentorships programs, internships or more guidance in selecting a career in ag. These initiatives would have a positive impact on our young people and further support the agricultural industry."