WESTERN Australia's teachers are invited to apply for a two-day professional development program which aims to connect education providers with farmers as part of the innovative Teacher Farm Experience Program (TeacherFX).
Now in its second year, the program, to be held on September 16 and 17 in the Kojonup region, is a collaboration between Rabobank and CQUniversity Australia, that aims to bridge the urban rural divide by providing teachers with a greater understanding of what modern food and fibre production looks like.
Rabobank WA Client Council co-chairwoman Gerri Hinkley said by exposing teachers to some of WA's mixed farming enterprises they could share their experiences and learnings back in the classroom.
"We want to generate curiosity amongst WA students around the production of food and fibre and the supply chain that puts these products into our homes," Ms Hinkley said.
"The Rabobank Client Councils introduced the StudentFX program in 2014, where kids from metropolitan schools were placed out on farms to give them that real work experience taste of what modern farming is like.
"Following on from the success of that program we thought, what if we could bring a teacher out to a farm and they can share their fantastic experience and new knowledge back in the classroom with their 25 students.
"Through TeacherFX, there is the exponential potential of increasing that positive attitude and thirst for knowledge around food and fibre production.
"By connecting teachers with farmers, we are providing them with the resources and confidence to teach their students about the sector and the opportunities that exist."
Ms Hinkley said there were many entry points along the agricultural supply chain to consider as a career pathway.
"Now about 80 per cent of jobs are beyond the farmgate," she said.
"So if you didn't grow up on a farm, haven't driven a tractor, or have never handled a sheep before, there are still many opportunities to be involved in the industry."
Participants will spend the first day of the program touring three farms before staying the night with a local host farming family.
The second day is a professional development day, with CQUniversity providing support materials and resources.
"On the second day we work through the program and our resources, to get to the nitty gritty of what they've seen the day before and how they can turn those experiences into projects in class," Ms Hinkley said.
She said people didn't have as much access to farms these days, in part because there are fewer farmers.
"We want to enable people that might not have had much or any contact with a farm, to immerse themselves in that environment and connect with farmers and as a result, break down the old fashioned stereotypes of what farming is," Ms Hinkley said.
The TeacherFX program is provided at no charge to teachers, with meals, accommodation and return bus transport from Perth provided.
Teachers can apply for the upcoming September TeacherFX with applications open until August 30, 2019.