Agricultural image in dire need of makeover
By Alison Beaty, Australian Farm Journal 3July 2008
The good news extracted:
Changing the image
At Tocal College in NSW, the Principal, Cameron Archer, is driving a new initiative to introduce primary industries education into schools throughout Australia. As the working party convener of the ‘Primary Industries Education Foundation’ , Archer says the objective of the program is to provide national leadership and coordination of initiatives to encourage Primary Industries Education in schools through a partnership between industry, government and educators.
The aim is to get an integrated national program to educate children about agriculture, horticulture, forestry and fisheries. By engaging them with land-care and land and water use issues, the hope is that young people will have a better understanding of the role of agriculture and primary industries and some will go on to pursue careers in the field.
Targeting school students is also the aim of another Australia wide program coordinated by Dr David Russell, Senior Research Fellow, from the University of Tasmania. Christened the ‘Russell Model’, the program is designed to provide agricultural workplace experience to students in the final two years of high school. During 2000 – 2003 Russell initially ran the program in Tasmania, but in 2004, with government, industry and several universities support, the program spread to Australia’s mainland and is now being run by a number of universities across the country under the banner of the Primary Industry Centre of Science Education (PICSE).
“We are keen to talk to students who haven’t even thought about the options in agriculture because that’s the significant pool of students we haven’t really tapped into yet. One of the reasons they haven’t gone down the agricultural science track is the image of agriculture. So what we need to do in the first instance is to make an attitudinal change in the minds of students and also teachers,” Russell said.