Year 9 and 10 students from Geelong schools have been taking part in an innovative trial program to show how interconnected regional Australia is with the rest of the world through agriculture.
Students have been taking part in the Asia Education Foundation’s HarvestEd program throughout 2021, where students have been able to learn about agriculture, threats facing the industry and future opportunities.
Program co-ordinator Brendan Hitchens said the program was about opening up students’ minds to the region’s connections with the wider world through agriculture.
“This is about opening their horizons to the opportunities in agriculture – many of the students involved grew up on rural properties and have that background – but there’s so many elements involved in the agriculture industry into the future,” he said.
Through the program, the students were able to learn from guests including the National Wool Museum’s Stephanie Rosenstone, who spoke of Geelong’s rich history of sheep farming and wool and textile manufacturing, and Bayer Crop Science’s Simon Lamacraft, who spoke of the vital role science and technology plays in all aspects of agriculture.
GeelongPort head of service delivery Chris Anderson detailed Geelong’s connection to the world through agriculture and Lynne Strong from Young Farming Champions spoke of the young innovators and entrepreneurs who were shaping the industry.
Through research, role play, debate and dialogue, students investigated contentious issues such as animal activism, fast food, climate change and food aid to the world′s poorest nations.
They also met with greater Geelong deputy mayor Trent Sullivan to discuss local issues such as urbanisation, employment and the economy, and corresponded with federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud to share their concerns for the future of agriculture, both locally and abroad.
Mr Hitchens said the program, which included 80 students in 2021, had been a great success and would be rolled out more broadly across the state next year.