We need to focus on the kids

By Claire Robertson, TFGA Kids to Farm Project Officer on
01 September 2023

Children and young people may not yet be aware of the diverse career opportunities available in agriculture. It’s become increasingly evident that attracting them into this area can be difficult. The current generation of students is needed to create a strong workforce of innovative minds to enable Australian agriculture to keep up with world demands and the changing climate.

Efficient, sustainable farming with strong management of biosecurity risks and continued innovation, will be necessary to ensure the Australian agricultural sector is sustainable and continues to thrive. For this to be possible, we need our next generation to be aware, interested, educated and ready to assume the many and varied roles required.

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Primary school years are a wonderful time to expand students’ horizons and introduce them to areas they may be unfamiliar with. Primary school is a time when students have generally not yet locked in career pathways and may be open to new ideas. My role with the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association has been to write and coordinate projects that enable primary schools and their students to engage in agricultural learning.

The most recent project, Enabling the Ag Innovators of the Future, enabled students to learn about food and fibre production and develop their innovative ideas that could contribute to solutions for the future of agriculture. It is hoped that this early experience may build their confidence in problem-solving and innovating and increase their knowledge and interest in agriculture in general.

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TFGA is dedicated to ensuring that the Tasmanian agriculture sector is sustainable. This project and others in the education space, such as Kids to Farms, make a vital contribution towards this goal by engaging with young people, who are the future of agriculture.

TFGA’s education projects, allow the association to form and nurture connections with a variety of stakeholders including Hagley Farm Agricultural Learning Centre, Forest Education Foundation, the Tasmanian Agricultural Education Network (TAEN), Tasmanian Agricultural Productivity Group (TAPG), Primary Industries Education Foundation of Australia (PIEFA), Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture, and University of Tasmania. As we all know, working collaboratively with organisations that have similar goals and objectives can strengthen offerings and create a supportive environment for us all to work in.

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Funding to support bus transport for excursions, resources for use in the classroom, professional learning sessions and connections to other resources and organisations have been provided to schools, teachers and students to foster their interest in agriculture. This has been made possible through funding from the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund and previously through the Educating Kids about Agriculture Initiative. This funding has now come to an end, and education projects like this one will depend on the availability of future funding. After all, it is funding for our future in agriculture.