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Pitch competition winners wow the judges with Agri-Tech careers app idea

Published:27 July 2020

Annie Tolman, Zoe Fairfull and Clara Tolman with the Alstonville High School competition steers

Three female students from Alstonville High School, NSW have won the national 2020 Women in Agri-tech Pitch Competition with their idea for an app called ‘Youth in Agriculture: Australia’s Future’.

The Agri-tech Pitch Competition offered small groups of female students in years 7-10 from remote, regional and rural Australia the opportunity to share in $5000 of prize money and attendance at an innovation bootcamp facilitated by tech incubator River City Labs.

The winning idea, an app designed by Clara Tolman, Annie Tolman and Zoe Fairfull from grades 9 and 10 at Alstonville State School, is aimed to entice students to consider a career in agriculture and link them to experiences and training opportunities in their region.

See the winning entry here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6A119BT1XY 

Clara, Annie and Zoe used information from the Australian Bureau of Statistics to identify a shortfall between the growing number of jobs within the agricultural industries and how many people are interested in filling those positions.

“The statistics show filling jobs in the industry is an increasing problem and we believe this will ultimately affect our ability, as a nation, to provide food security to the population,” Clara Tolman explained.

The students came up with the idea for the Youth in Agriculture app and then prepared a video pitch for the competition.

“The app would be a platform to help young people find a career path or profession in agriculture through the use of various guided resources that will advance their knowledge of what the industry has to offer while building upon their noted skills and interests,” Zoe Fairfull said.
“The app would feature a non-compulsory introductory quiz that will help filter appropriate articles, information and mentors for each individual.”
“It would also link students to online workshops and conferences as well as work experience and job opportunities,” added Annie Tolman

Women in Agri-tech researcher Dr Jaime Manning says the app idea was awarded first place as it was well researched and responded to an important issue within the agricultural industries.

“The students from Alstonville High School displayed very innovative thinking with their app, they identified an important issue and have come up with a good solution for it,” she explained.
“They also presented their solution in a clear and concise pitch that impressed all of the judges.”
Alstonville High School also won $2000 in cash prizes to go towards school projects.
Agriculture teacher Ben Holmes says the school already has an idea what the money will go towards.
“We have decided to allocate the money to buying another steer for the Cattle Showing Team, which Clara, Annie and Zoe are all a part of,” Mr Holmes said.
“The students have also said they’d like to breed and show their own fancy poultry, so we are looking to develop a ‘show bird’ program as well.”

Mr Holmes says the competition has been a great experience for his students.

“They not only have a much better understanding of the issues the agricultural industry is facing but also how to design a solution for an issue and how to put together a good pitch to communicate their idea.”
The winning team, and the four other teams that placed in the top five, will participate in a three-day virtual bootcamp facilitated by tech incubator River City Labs. The bootcamp will help the students take their innovation to the next level.

Women in Agri-Tech is an initiative of CQUniversity Australia and funded by the Australian Government Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.

Women in Agri-Tech Pitch Competition Winners
1st Place: Alstonville State School
2nd Place: Woodleigh School
3rd Place: Taminmin College
4th Place: St Joseph’s High School Aberdeen
5th: Naracoorte High School