Funded by the Australian Government’s National Careers Institute, EXCITED 4 Careers in Agriculture (EXCITED) is a joint initiative between CQUniversity and industry partners across Australia, for students from kindergarten to Grade 10, in regional and rural communities.
The two-year project delivered the last of its school outreach across April and May 2023, with activities across the Clare and Barossa Valleys, Darwin, Gippsland, Proserpine, and in Central West NSW.
CQU Agriculture Lecturer Dr Jaime Manning led the activities in South Australia, and young people were excited to get their hands dirty as they uncovered wine industry careers, testing soil, assessing grapes, and exploring a winery.
“When we’re face-to-face and delivering activities, we see students’ joy of getting to try new things, think outside the square, and most importantly break down some of those stereotypes about what a career in agriculture looks like,” she said.
“We’re engaging with both primary and secondary school students and getting them to explore both their career interests and strengths, and how they might translate into a career in agriculture,” Dr Manning said.
Meredith Crawford is Agriculture teacher at St Joseph’s, Clare, and was part of the EXCITED activities, co-presented with Wine Australia.
She said it was vital for students to get out of the classroom and to see what agriculture jobs looked like.
“A beauty of this program is that trainers look at the person in front of them, and ask what they’re interested in, what are their strengths, and then translate that into potential careers… and often careers they haven’t thought about before,” she said.
The EXCITED project uses the RIASEC (Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional) model to support students exploration of agricultural careers through diverse hands-on activities.
Surveys at the end of the sessions capture changes in students’ interest in the sector, and their understanding of job opportunities.
Across an outreach in 2022, 90 per cent of students said they enjoyed the activities, and 71 per cent said they had a better understanding of agriculture career options due to the project.
EXCITED is delivered by CQU’s Agri-Tech Education team, that develops innovative programs to increase the skills and knowledge of the current and next generation agricultural workforce in tech-driven tools and systems.
The team is led by CQU Research Fellow Dr Amy Cosby, and its successfully delivered research-informed outreach initiatives across Australia.