Agriculture is the backbone of our society, providing the food and resources that sustain our lives. However, the future of this crucial industry relies on a new generation of passionate and skilled individuals who are willing to take up the mantle. This is where programs like AgCAREERSTART come into play. As a host farmer, we've had the privilege of being a part of this initiative in 2023 and are looking forward to being a host farmer again in 2024 – in fact we have already received applications for next year.
The AgCAREERSTART program aims to connect aspiring young farmers with seasoned host farmers. Through hands-on experience and educational support, the program helps participants develop the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in the agricultural sector.
From a host farmer's standpoint, being part of the AgCAREERSTART program is an immensely rewarding experience. Here are a few reasons why:
Passing Down Knowledge: As a host farmer, we take pride in sharing our collective knowledge and experience with the next generation. It's an opportunity for our farmers to pass on not just the practical skills, but also the values and principles that underpin sustainable and responsible oyster farming.
Fresh Perspectives: One of the most refreshing aspects of working with AgCAREERSTART participants is their fresh perspective and innovative ideas. Young school-leavers are not afraid to question conventional methods and seek out more efficient and sustainable practices. This infusion of youth and new ideas is invigorating and ensures that our oyster farming methods remains dynamic and adaptable.
Investing in the Future: By hosting AgCAREERSTART participants, we are investing in the future of agriculture and aquaculture. These young people are not just apprentices; they are potential future leaders in the industry. By providing them with a solid foundation and guidance, we are contributing to the long-term sustainability of oyster farming and regional coastal communities.
Building Stronger Connections: The AgCAREERSTART program is not just about imparting knowledge; it's also about building connections and fostering a sense of community. Working with participants allows for the establishment of relationships that can extend far beyond the program's duration. These connections can lead to collaborations, shared resources, and mutual support in the years to come.
The Joy of Mentorship: Mentoring is a rewarding experience, and as a host farmer, we have had great satisfaction from watching the growth and development of this year’s AgCAREERSTART participants Skyla and Lily. It was great watching Lily learn more about what she wants in life and to follow her heart and passion, which meant she left the program early to pursue a university placement. There’s also been a deep sense of fulfillment in watching Skyla progress through the program from eager learner to confident young woman and skilled farmer.
“Doing this program has been a great opportunity for me I have experienced so much by myself over the past year and gained so much independence and life skills,” said Skyla.
“I feel very lucky to have been placed within AOC as there is so much variety and they were very accommodating when I wanted to transfer to another one of their farms. I would recommend this program to people thinking about doing it as it’s a low commitment way to figure out if a career in agriculture is for you and, if not, you will still gain a lot of life skills.”
The NSW Farmers Program AgCAREERSTART is an important program for the future of Australian agriculture. As a host farmer, we can attest to the many benefits of participating in this initiative. It's a win-win situation where both experienced farmers and aspiring agriculturalists stand to gain. By passing down knowledge, encouraging innovation, and investing in the next generation, we are collectively ensuring that the agricultural industry remains robust and sustainable for years to come.
If you're a farmer, we highly recommend becoming part of this program. Your contribution can make a world of difference in shaping the future of agriculture.
Here are some photos looking back at our 2023 experience with AgCAREERSTART: