HOW many careers in agriculture can you name?
It’s an interesting question and I stopped to rattle off more than two dozen before getting back to this story, which concerns Stirlings to Coast Farmers (SCF).
The go-ahead farmer group, based in Albany, is expanding its Student Connect project which embraces annual Future of Agriculture Scholarships (worth $1000).
The idea of the project is to promote careers in agriculture, which is aimed at encouraging ag students to stay in the industry.
Recently, SCF announced the inaugural winners of its Future of Agriculture Scholarships at the WA College of Agriculture, Denmark.
Next year the Student Connect project will also involve Mt Barker Community College and possibly several other schools where the project is still under discussion.
SCF successfully applied for funding support from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program 2.
“There are a lot of people who don’t know the scope of careers in agriculture,” said SCF communications officer Kathi McDonald.
“Even to the extent of working in a farmer group like ours.
“The industry needs technicians, marketers, engineers, agronomists, veterinarians and all the careers associated with the supply chain involving agriculture.
“We want young people to gain a better understanding of those careers by connecting with people in those roles.”
Ms McDonald said they held career sessions with industry speakers who had volunteered their time to talk about why they had chosen a particular agriculture career pathway.
She said they wanted to encourage all students and connect them with industry people.
“If they are interested we want to be there with them to provide as much support as possible,” Ms McDonald said.
“From our perspective it’s all about creating awareness of career opportunities in ag.”
The emphasis is hands-on training exposure and SCF sponsors CBH Group, Elders, PF Olsen and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development have provided student days to provide information about careers.
Farm visits also feature in the Student Connect project, along with plans to tap into the SCF’s own Smart Farms, to showcase the latest technologies to students with hands-on experience.
It will be made possible because of an announcement earlier this year that a regional data network is being planned involving more than 1000 regional farms connected to high-speed wireless internet.
SCF’s project with telecommunications company Pivotel will connect 50 farms from west of Mt Barker across to South Stirlings, with high-speed internet and cross-farm wifi.
This will enable such things as telematics – real-time data transfer – to be used for a range of applications.
In future years it could even include autonomous vehicles.
Another exciting development is a partnership between SCF and a Melbourne-based agtech start-up company Iotag Pty Ltd to investigate the potential of using innovative GPS tracking technology.
Locata collars will be used to assess the potential benefits of multi-species grazing systems with sheep and cattle on pasture utilisation and meat quality.
According to SCF research and development co-ordinator Nathan Dovey, this year Denmark year 11 students were invited to submit a 500 to 1000 word essay on the topic, ‘Where do you see the future of agriculture in Australia and how will you contribute to this changing industry?’
Two $1000 scholarships were awarded to Bernice Wanden and Jessica James.
“There were some quality submissions and deciding on the winners was a tough choice,” Mr Dovey said.
“SCF is proud of our industry and is committed to promoting agriculture as an exciting career opportunity.”