Hands-on field trip for careers advisors helps promote future ag careers

The Primary Industries Education Foundation Australia (PIEFA) group of teachers/educators on the field trip.

A HANDS-ON two-day agricultural industry tour around the Mid North Coast, a region chosen for its experience of recent storms and floods, saw 26 careers advisors and teachers soak up lived experience of working on the land and with the land.

The Primary Industries Education Foundation Australia (PIEFA) hosted the professional development field trip on March 30 and 31, 2023.

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Delegates from Coffs Harbour High School and Woolgoolga High School were joined by others from regional NSW.

The primary objective of the tour was to provide the school careers advisors and teachers with a comprehensive understanding of the diverse range of careers available in the food and fibre industry, specifically in storm and flood-affected areas of NSW.

“Many of the regions of NSW that were devastated by floods over recent years are still in recovery mode,” Ben Holmes, Program Manager for the PIEFA Storm and Flood Industry Recovery Program, told News Of The Area.

“In order for our professional development participants to fully appreciate the diversity of career opportunities in agriculture in these regions, it was felt a hands-on, in-person tour that explored various industries would be the most impactful option.

“We were spoilt with some outstanding speakers, all passionate about their respective specialties; and the careers advisors and teachers that attended were blown away with the range of jobs and pathways that are available for their students, right in their backyards,” said Ben.

The intent was for this to lead to providing a much-needed boost to the industries’ workforce.

On day one of the tour, participants donned their safety gear and were guided through Bellingen Old Butter Factory, Norco, Dorrigo Delicatessen, Demlane Farm, The Dorrigo Butcher, and the University of New England to explore roles in agribusiness, food security, and food value chains.

Throughout these visits, members of the NSW Department of Primary Industries Dairy and Dairy NSW presented to the group.

The day was filled with engaging and informative workshops, including a successful industry-supported graduate program presented by Nutrien Ag Solutions, and an agribusiness workshop run by the Dorrigo Mushrooms team.

The PIEFA team hosted a curriculum workshop on teaching resources for schools, providing practical tools for the use of curriculum-aligned food and fibre resources in the classroom.

To round out the day, participants stayed overnight at Lookout Mountain Retreat, Dorrigo Mountain.

On day two, participants engaged in a livestock training program hosted by Macleay Valley College staff and students.

This program allowed participants to learn and experience first-hand the skills and knowledge required in the livestock industry.

Additionally, a group of students from a developing community agricultural engagement program called Cultivate Ag supported the event, providing the participants with valuable insights into the program’s impact on the community.

Representatives from the local Regional Industry Education Partnership (RIEP) and Skills Impact AFAM/ITAB also attended the event, collaborating with the organisers to ensure the program’s success.

The group visited agritourism and protected cropping enterprise, Ricardoes Tomatoes, where attendees explored the plantation and discovered career opportunities in horticulture.

After this, participants were presented with information about the diverse aquaculture and fisheries industry by the DPI team.

Participants had the opportunity to witness circular economies, value-adding, and post-production processing at The Other Chef and The Wicked Elf in Port Macquarie.

Overall, day two provided a hands-on experience for participants to learn about livestock training, engage with students from a developing community agricultural engagement program, and learn about the diverse range of careers available in the food and fibre industry.

The two-day agricultural industry tour hosted by PIEFA was deemed a resounding success by organisers with 100 percent of the participants reporting that their understanding of ag careers had increased significantly, and they were well-equipped and motivated to promote ag career pathways to their students.

The tour was part of PIEFA’s Sector Recovery and Resilience project, ‘Creating Resilience Through Empowering School Curriculums about Primary Industries Careers’.

The project is jointly funded by the Department of Regional NSW, Storm and Flood Industry Recovery Program, and the Australian and NSW Government, under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.


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