Country News

Teachers take their lessons on the farm

By Country News

Toolamba dairy farmer Rick Cross opened his home to teachers from schools across Victoria as part of the Teacher Farm Experience program.

Mr Cross said the program gave him the chance to help build the next generation of agricultural workers through sharing his knowledge.

"Teachers can influence a large number of young people and open doors, it's about giving people experiences,” he said.

In a partnership with Central Queensland University, Rabobank hosted the program over two days on October 9 and 10.

Mr Cross said the agriculture industry was not a last career resort, thanks to a high level of technology.

“A lot of these teachers are metropolitan based, it can open their eyes that this is a good industry to be in,” he said.

Rabobank Riverina and northern Victoria regional manager Sally Bull said she hoped the teachers walked away with a better understanding of agriculture businesses.

“There are plenty of opportunities for a career in agriculture that don't necessarily mean you're from a farm or work on the farm,” Ms Bull said.

This is the first Teacher Farm Experience in Victoria, while other programs have been hosted in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

Teachers from Melbourne, Geelong and Gippsland participated in the first day of farm visits to a Toolamba dairy farm, Prima Fresh Fruit and Avonlea flower farm.

Digital technology teacher at St Francis Primary school in Nathalia, Jerrod Davison, said the program had provided an authentic experience to give back to his students.

In the classroom, Mr Davison demonstrated to the students how robots can sort colours with Lego blocks and said he could now relate it to the machines sorting fruit as they're processed at Prima Fresh fruit in Tatura.

“It's an amazing opportunity, I'm living in the country now but coming from the city, I now have a better understanding and can adapt my teaching program to suit,” he said.

“I've developed contacts within the industry and I can take new information back to the classroom.”

M Davison said learning was best when there was a reason, and in future he could show his students how sensors monitor plant growth.

Rabobank's client council focuses on issues facing the local community, with one of them being education of agriculture, in order to bridge the divide between people living in rural and metropolitan areas.

Rabobank's client council member Mark Ritchie said the clients from agriculture looked for programs to support the rural community and were passionate about their goal.

"I think it's a really valuable program to promote agriculture to key influencers,” Mr Ritchie said.

“We've got good enrolment numbers which is really encouraging.

“There's real interest in what the farmers have to say.”

Mr Ritchie said the main message to get across was there was a range of varied careers in agriculture services and that agriculture was a positive story in this country.