Secondary students across Victoria's foodbowl will get new insight into high-tech career options in agriculture' thanks to an agri-tech program from the Goulburn Murray Local Learning and Employment Network and CQUniversity.
The Raising Aspirations in Careers and Education - Goulburn (RACE – Goulburn) project will connect with more than 2000 students across 15 schools in the next 12 months.
With $200'000 funding from the Victorian Government's Secondary School Agriculture Fund' the project will increase student and teacher awareness of modern agricultural careers' via hands-on activities and workplace visits linked to skills needed in the fast-changing industry.
The RACE project has already had success in Gippsland' where CQU's Agri-Tech Education and Extension team led primary and secondary school incursions and farm visits' and research to capture participants' understanding and shifting aspirations.
Over the past three years the Gippsland outreach has already connected with more than 3000 students' and built ongoing relationships between schools and agriculture employers.
Now Goulburn Murray students will get hands-on opportunities to participate in an Agri-tech Roadshow where they will complete interactive activities using technology on food waste' assess fruit ripeness and use sensors to test soil.
They will also have the opportunity to visit agricultural workplaces in the Goulburn Murray region to hear first-hand from agricultural professionals what a career in the industry is like and see how their food is produced in the region.
CQU project lead Associate Professor Amy Cosby is a researcher and dairy farmer' and said young people in the regions needed more opportunities to see the diverse career paths available in primary production.
"Owning a dairy business in Gippsland' I see firsthand that young people aren't connecting with the numerous career opportunities in agriculture' both on and off farm'" she said.
"Throughout the RACE Gippsland project' based on data collected prior to and after student participation we can see that their awareness of careers and pathways in agricultural industries increases.
"We are now excited about working with students and the agricultural industry in the Goulburn Murray region to attract the next generation workforce who are skilled and passionate about the sector."
Passionate and engaging team members who are highly experienced in delivering high-quality agricultural education experiences will ensure students both learn and enjoy activities' provided to schools for free.
Goulburn Murray Local Learning and Employment Network Executive Officer Bec Costa-Lowe said the project would help young people find new career pathways' and address local skills shortages.
"It's such an exciting time in agriculture for tech and innovation' and the RACE project will help put local young people in the driver's seat'" she said.
"GMLLEN can't wait to work with CQU agri-tech experts' and start rolling out the inspiring' interactive experiences for our local schools."
RACE – Goulburn is also supported by Fruit Growers Australia' Central Ranges Local Learning and Employment Network' Legacy Packing AC Foods' Murray Dairy' the Committee for Greater Shepparton' and Tatura SmartFarms.
Open to secondary schools across Greater Shepparton' Moira' Strathbogie' Campaspe' Mitchell and Murrindindi LGAs' to participate please contact A/Prof Cosby via agri-techeducation.com or email email@example.com.