On a mission to ignite a passion for agriculture and grow the industry

14 NOVEMBER 2022

On a mission to ignite a passion for agriculture and grow the industry

Two Charles Sturt students studying to become agriculture teachers reflect on their motivations to inspire the next generation of industry professionals ahead of National Agriculture Day.

  • A student’s agriculture degree inspires her to become an agriculture teacher and influence future generations
  • Charles Sturt students believe that educating secondary students on agriculture sector opportunities is the key to fuelling growth in the sector. 
  • National Agriculture Day in 2022 is on Friday 18 November

A Charles Sturt University student had two pathways at graduation – she could pursue a career in the agriculture industry, or she could train to influence the next generation of industry professionals.

There are currently approximately 280,000 people working in the agriculture, fisheries and forestry industries, in professions ranging from import and export, livestock management, farm manager, economist, engineers, scientists or sales.

These people are responsible for maintaining the environment we live in, providing the food we eat and keeping Australia a competitive global market.

On National Agriculture Day on Friday 18 November, Charles Sturt University is preparing to celebrate not only those in the industry, but those currently preparing to inspire the next generation of agriculture professionals.

Ms Alice Lewis graduated with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science from Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga in 2022 and is currently working at Oxton Park in Harden, NSW.

But toward the end of her degree, she was inspired to enrol in a Master of Teaching (Secondary), majoring in agriculture, commencing in 2023.

“I was required to complete placement with an industry professional … and throughout that time, I was exposed to the agriculture industry’s critical need for employees,” she said.

“Every property we visited offered me a job or asked me if I knew of anyone available to work. Every single level of industry is desperate for workers.

“I realised that although I could go on to pursue a career in livestock production advisory, I believe the place I could really make a difference is in the secondary education system.”

There are currently four-to-five job opportunities for each university graduate in horticulture and agriculture, in fields such as agronomy, agritechnology, data management, sustainable food production and farm management.

aliceMs Lewis wants to ignite a passion for agriculture in high school students and expose them to the vast career paths available within the industry.

She believes gaining the attention of high school students and showing them the possibilities is the key to growing the agriculture industry.

“Ag teachers have the potential to demonstrate the vast range of career opportunities within our industry, particularly to those who haven’t considered pursing the career in the sector, and channelling them down a pathway of fulfilment,” she said.

“The highest level of success for myself as a teacher will be to create a space that ignites passion, excitement and drive within agricultural industries.”

During floods, fires and plagues, the agriculture industry has adapted and endured, especially over the past two years. Ms Lewis said National Agriculture Day is a time to celebrate the people that keep this industry alive.

Mrs Grace Newton lives on a small property outside Parkes with her husband. She is currently teaching at Parkes High School while in her final year of studying online in a Bachelor of Education Technological and Applied Studies, majoring in agriculture.

Growing up on her family’s farm in Parkes and having some inspirational agriculture teachers in high school helped increase her passion for the industry.

“I wanted to be able to have that lasting impression on students, just as my teachers have had on me,” she said.

“As our industry grows, I think it is important that we encourage younger generations to participate in our industry.

“Within our industry, there are various roles to play and we need to ensure agriculture is in secure hands.”

Course Director with the Charles Sturt School of Education Ms Melanie Sugumaran said the University is focused on producing job-ready graduates that are ready to inspire the next generation.

“Agriculture teachers are able to inspire students to pursue a career in agriculture by sharing passion and experience and demonstrate the role that agriculture plays in society across both urban and rural contexts,” she said.

“Agriculture is a mandatory subject in the NSW curriculum and it is important that students are being taught by trained and qualified subject matter experts.

“Raising awareness about career paths on days like National Agriculture Day exposes opportunities that otherwise may be unknown. It celebrates the richness our country has to offer and to allow people to be part of this.”

Media Note:

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Nicole Barlow at Charles Sturt Media on mobile 0429 217 026 or news@csu.edu.au

Photo captions: (Image 1) Grace Newton and (image 2) Alice Lewis are currently studying at Charles Sturt to become agriculture teachers.

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Wagga Wagga Agricultural Science Charles Sturt University