Innovations in Agri-Tech Education and Extension

We are a team of researchers and practitioners who develop innovative programs to increase the skills and knowledge of the current and next-generation agricultural workforce in agri-tech tools and systems.

Our team works with educational institutions, agricultural businesses and industry organisations to develop and implement a range of learning opportunities for educators, students and those working in the agricultural industry to build their capacity to use data and technology to support decision-making across the supply chain.

All of our projects aim to showcase the scientific and digital skills required in the agricultural industry to upskill the current agricultural workforce and attract the next generation to work in the food and fibre production sector.

By exposing young people to agri-tech tools and systems from an early age the benefits are two-fold:

  • It will increase the adoption of technology across the agriculture supply chain when these young people enter the workforce as they will be confident and skilled in the use of agri-tech.
  • Students will act as ‘agents of change’ and influence, encourage and support adults to adopt agri-tech tools and systems on-farm.

Specialist research skills:

  • education as a vehicle for information delivery and encouraging practice change
  • community-based social marketing
  • behavioural and clinical psychology
  • behaviour change through story-telling
  • knowledge transfer and innovation in agricultural supply chains
  • training and assessment protocols and delivery
  • information-based public relations and communications techniques
  • media, social media, and mass communications

RACE Gippsland

Gippsland agriculture is a world-class industry with the agrifood sector being the largest contributor to the local economy.  Despite this significance, many students remain unaware of the ways their different strengths and interests can be explored through the world of agricultural work.  RACE Gippsland connects the classrooms with the wider world of Gippsland agriculture and encourages students to explore their potential in a dynamic, STEM driven industry that exists in their own backyard.

Raising Aspirations in Careers and Education - Gippsland (RACE - Gippsland) will deliver a range of hands-on, interactive and engaging activities to primary and secondary students focuses on building student capacity in STEM, digital technologies, agribusiness, manufacturing and food and fibre concepts, which:

Raise awareness and increase motivation to pursue one of the vast range of careers across the agricultural supply chain

Build their knowledge of, and increase their aspirations to undertake further education pathways

Enhance their life skills (eg communication, resilience, problem solving) by exposing them to potential employers and industry role models

Find out more about RACE Gippsland

EXCITED 4 Careers in Agriculture

The EXCITED 4 Careers in Agriculture program is targeted at K-10 students in regional and rural communities. A range of hands-on activities will embed career guidance activities in the classroom and strengthen the ability of teachers, parents, and industry professionals to support students in exploring their interests, strengths and values and how these relate to the world of agricultural work.

This embedded school-industry partnership career guidance program will be implemented in regional and rural classrooms modified for lower primary (K-3), upper primary (4-6), lower secondary (7 & 8), and middle secondary (9 & 10), and focused on a regional industry of economic significance.

The program is delivered in partnership with AgForce, Australian Science Teachers Association, Australian Prawn Farmers Association, Cotton Australia, GippsDairy, National Association of Agricultural Educators, NT Farmers, Sugar Research Australia, and Wine Australia. This program received grant funding from the Australian Government’s National Careers Institute.

Associate Professor Amy Cosby

Amy Cosby has a Bachelor of Agriculture/Bachelor of Laws (Hons) and a PhD in Precision Agriculture. Amy is a leading practitioner and researcher in the field of student and teacher engagement within the agricultural industry and has extensive experience in leading large projects with a wide range of partners. She lives and works from South Gippsland, Victoria and with her husband owns and operates a 200-cow dairy farm. Amy currently works with educators, researchers and industry professionals to develop innovative programs to increase the skills and knowledge of teachers and students in agricultural concepts, tools and systems. Amy has conducted numerous surveys with both educators and students to evaluate their current level of agricultural knowledge and perception of the industry from a range of rural and urban locations. Her objective is to use the knowledge derived from this research to design programs that showcase and attract the next-generation agricultural workforce to the industry from diverse backgrounds.

Dr Jaime Manning

Jaime is a lecturer in Agriculture within the School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences at CQUniversity Australia, based in Rockhampton. Currently, she teaches animal production, behaviour, welfare and new and emerging technologies into the CQUni agriculture degree program. She has a Bachelor of Animal and Veterinary Bioscience (First Class Honours) and a PhD in Precision Livestock from The University of Sydney. Jaime’s main research interests are using and incorporating technology on farm to improve the level of monitoring and welfare of livestock (cattle and sheep), whilst providing invaluable information into how we manage livestock and detect issues as they arise in extensive production systems. Her experience in livestock tracking, technology in Agriculture and research ensures that activities and professional development opportunities developed by the Agri-tech Education and Extension Research team are industry relevant and highlight current issues facing the sector.

Dr Nicole McDonald

Nicole is a social science researcher specialising in agricultural career and workforce development. She has recently completed research projects for the Australian cotton industry on the social-cognitive factors of work engagement and job satisfaction, and understanding and planning for the future of work. Her work has been published in the 2019 International Handbook of Career Guidance in a chapter on the Vocational Psychology of Agriculture. She was the 2019 recipient of the Career Development Association of Australia’s award for Excellence in Research and is an alumnus of the National Farmers Federation 2030 Leaders program. She hopes to support individuals develop their skills and capabilities in the pursuit of a safe, satisfying, and purposeful career in food and fibre, and improve the social sustainability of the agricultural industry.

Dr Nikki Kelly

Nikki is a Research Officer in the Agri-tech Education and Extension team at CQUniversity. She has a Bachelor of Biomedical Science (First Class Honours) (JCU) and a Graduate Diploma in Education (UQ). Her PhD (JCU) was in evolutionary and developmental biology and investigated the functional conservation of genes involved in neural system patterning. Following a postdoctoral fellowship at the Rotary Bone Marrow Research Laboratories in Melbourne, she married a grazier and moved to Rockhampton where she taught high school science, biology, and agricultural science for 15 years, striving to instill an appreciation of scientific literacy in her students. Nikki’s current research pursuits combine her interests in STEM education and agriculture, using agri-tech to engage students, educators, and industry members to increase their skills and understanding of the diverse range of careers across the agricultural supply chain. Her experience across science, STEM and education brings a unique and valued perspective to the team, in order to attract the next generation of highly skilled STEM-qualified agricultural workforce to the industry.

Dr Elle Fogarty  

Elle has a Bachelor of Animal and Veterinary Bioscience (Hons) from the University of Sydney and a PhD in Precision Livestock from CQUniversity. Elle brings with her a varied experience in research and development, ranging from veterinary pharmaceutical clinical trial management to Agri-tech application in sheep production systems in Australia and New Zealand. More recently, she has expanded on her passion and knowledge of data analytics, in a role as a Data Analyst for the Integrity Systems Company (ISC). She is currently a Senior Research Officer at CQUniversity, specialising in data analytics, the application of Agri-tech for animal behaviour and welfare assessment studies, agricultural education, and ensuring research findings from the Agri-tech education and extension team address industry needs and issues.

Dr Melissa Sullivan

Melissa works in the team as a Research Officer.  Melissa completed her Doctor of Education (CQU) that explored academics' perceptions and experiences of teaching Work Integrated Learning (WIL) in Australian universities in 2021, for which she received an award for Higher Degree Research Excellence. As a Qualitative Researcher, she is interested in researching work and workplaces and investigating how to prepare professionals for work in the future. She has extensive experience teaching in universities, predominantly in Human Resource Management and Management disciplines, and has provided consultancy services for local government and non-profit organisations in Queensland.

Amy McCosker

Amy completed her Bachelor of Journalism at the University of Queensland in 2010 before embarking on a career within the ABC. The following years with the national broadcaster saw Amy working on radio, digital and TV projects with shows like the Queensland Country Hour and Landline. A keen interest in agriculture drew Amy to leaving the media arena to work with the agri-tech education and extension team at CQU.

Anna Day

Anna grew up on a mixed farming property in Western NSW. After completing a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Sydney, Anna worked in Banking and Finance for many years in Sydney and overseas. She then returned to the country, completed a Bachelor of Education at Charles Sturt University and worked for industry to apply her knowledge and experience in the delivery of multiple agricultural projects. Bringing together her interest in educating the next generation on the importance of agriculture and her experience in program delivery, she joined the Agri-tech education and extension team in 2022 as a project officer.