Attracting young people into agriculture and natural resource management is challenging in Western NSW due to the lack of training opportunities and geographic isolation. Shortages of labor for on ground farm work as well as shortages in young, local professionals taking up skilled positions has meant that resources need to be drawn from outside of the region and local knowledge is not kept in the area. There is a noticeable gap preventing young people from identifying and taking advantage of opportunities to find meaningful work in these fields.
The Western Landcare Schools Network was developed by the Local Landcare Coordinator to address this need. Funded by Local Land Services, the program created a space for young people from high schools across the region to come together and receive training and mentoring in areas of activity directly related to agriculture and natural resource management while equipping them with experience and confidence to pursue work or further study. This included 1080 licencing for pest management, chemical certificate for weed management, chainsaw handling and low stress stock handling as well as mentoring by local land managers and industry professionals regarding future opportunities for the students.
13 students from 5 high schools engaged in the program with all of them interested and enthusiastic about continuing their education, either academically or hands on, in agriculture and natural resource management. There has already been interest shown from many land holders who have heard about the program in being mentors for future years and some have even offered to employ the students for temporary work on their stations. The participating schools have also committed to continuing their involvement and assisting to grow the program.
For more information and PDF download please visit: https://landcare.nsw.gov.au/groups/Western_landcare/empowering-future-landcarers/