Home Hill students get Excited 4 Careers in Agriculture

24 August 2022

Students from Home Hill State High School were given a taste of the broad range of careers available in agriculture through CQUniversity's EXCITED 4 Careers in Agriculture program last week (Tuesday' 17 August).

The national program which targets teachers' parents and students from Kindergarten to Year 10 in regional and rural communities' provided an opportunity for the Burdekin locals to meet innovative farmers and learn about the careers available in their region.

Funded by the Australian Government National Careers Institute' EXCITED 4 Careers in Agriculture is a joint initiative between the Agri-tech Education and Extension team at CQUniversity' seven industry partners and two education association partners.

CQU Agriculture Lecturer Dr Jaime Manning articulated the uniqueness of this new program.

"What's different about EXCITED 4 Careers in Agriculture is we aren't just focusing on the career aspect' we take into account the student's interests' values and strengths'" Dr Manning said.

"We highlight to the students how their interests can play a role in agriculture and provide future opportunities.

"Students at Home Hill looked into the aquaculture sector and discovered there are options for everyone - from someone that is more artistic and wants to look at marketing plans for the prawn industry' to those that are interested in technology' sensors and data. We also looked at more conventional skills that are more practical and hands-on."

To assist in career guidance' students completed a questionnaire aligned to the RIASEC model' a theory designed by American psychologist John L. Holland' to understand how an individual's personality and interests may fit into a career.

Year 8 student Logan Mclean said his personalised RIASEC code helped him explore which aspects of an agricultural career would suit him best.

"When I completed my quiz' I found out I was more interested in the realistic side of agriculture and I enjoy hands-on activities'" Logan said.

"I participated in water testing where I tested the water's pH and temperature using sensors and different technologies.

"I didn't know much about prawns or the prawn farming industry before. My favourite part was dissecting a prawn and finding out that it has a calcium bar in its mouth."

Students were also given additional insight into the prawn sector through guest speaker Matthew Gardner' Grow-out Manager at Pacific Reef Fisheries' before travelling out to the Pacific Reef Fisheries algae farm.

Pacific Bio Production Manager' Bruno Pais conducted a tour of the facilities to show how macroalgae can be used to naturally remove nutrients from water' and how these nutrients are not wasted but used for other products.

Dr Manning said it was important for the students to engage with members of the community to learn about these new and innovative businesses that are right at their back door.

"In many regional locations the agriculture industry is a major source of economic activity and employment. Yet research shows that people in these locations often aren't aware of the diverse opportunities for a rewarding career'" she explained.

Coming from a background in farming herself' Home Hill State High School Agriculture and Science Teacher Louise Nicholas said the EXCITED 4 Careers in Agriculture program was a great way for students to learn about the different avenues of this vital sector.

"I have grown up on a farm' so I have a real passion for the industry. I love to share that with young students and see the excitement on their faces when engaged in agriculture'" Ms Nicholas said.

"It is one thing to learn about it in the classroom' but programs such as this help students to see' feel and even smell what is involved in different agriculture careers."

The EXCITED 4 Careers in Agriculture is a collaboration with a wide range of industry partners including AgForce Queensland' NT Farmers Association' GippsDairy' Sugar Research Australia' Cotton Australia' Australian Prawn Farmers Association' Wine Australia and the National Association of Agricultural Educators and the Australian Science Teachers Association.

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