Agriculture and environmental science were the focus of a recent forum held by Shepparton Lighthouse Project at Shepparton High School for students and teachers.
The event was about showcasing the diversity of jobs in the sector and encouraging more understanding about the region’s agricultural businesses.
‘‘Younger secondary students are being targeted before they start making decisions about subject selection and career pathways,’’ Lighthouse Project co-ordinator Carla Miles said.
‘‘Greater Shepparton Lighthouse Projects community engagement initiative One Thousand Conversations showed there was a poor understanding and low interest in jobs on offer in the agribusiness sector among students, parents and teachers. At the same time employers in the sector reported not being able to find appropriately skilled and motivated staff.
‘‘Locally, we know there is a decline in student uptake of agricultural and environmental subjects (including geography and some sciences). However, around Australia, and indeed worldwide, we know there is renewed interest in studying and working in agricultural science.’’
Year 7 and 8 students and teachers heard from speakers from a number of different fields from agribusiness to environmental planning in a round-table format.
‘‘There are not enough agriculture graduates out there. Statistics show there are five job openings for one graduate and that means they will be paid better and have job security,’’ guest speaker and Committee for Greater Shepparton chief executive officer Sam Birrell said.
Agricultural science enthusiast and ‘‘Lego farmer’’ Aimee Snowden works on a farm in Tocumwal and said she didn’t have a straightforward pathway into agriculture despite growing up on a farm. She created the Lego Farmer Blog to celebrate and share the world of Australian agriculture through unique photos of a Lego farmer minifigure on farms.
‘‘It took a while for me to find out I enjoyed the mathematics, technology and business side of farming,’’ she said.
‘‘What I tell the students is there are a lot of choices out there and work out what you enjoy doing.’’
Shepparton High School principal Phillip Squires said all the school’s teachers would take part along with junior students.
‘‘It is about linking what the classroom is doing with the real world,’’ he said.
‘‘The agricultural industry is bigger than farmers and fruit growers and students should have a look at what’s possible.’’