Burdekin AgInspiration Program Inspires the Next Generation

Twenty-three students from Home Hill State High School recently embarked on an eye-opening journey through North Queensland’s key agricultural industries, thanks to a new initiative delivered by The Tropical North Queensland Drought Hub (TNQ Drought Hub) in partnership with the AgForce School to Industry Partnership Program.

The AgInspiration program and TNQ Drought Hub partnership was piloted in Cooktown in April this year. The program aims to shed light on the promising and vast careers in agribusiness and introduce high school students to the various pathways on offer.

TNQ Drought Hub Program Lead, Jane Oorschot said the program provided Year 10 and 11 students with the opportunity to engage first-hand with experts in the agricultural field.

“The agricultural industry is continually evolving and changing, and as the saying goes, ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’,” said Dr Oorschot.

“Students had the opportunity to learn about the diverse career opportunities in the agricultural sector whilst gaining insights into the skills and qualifications required in a variety of industries.

“It also really made students aware of the multitude of possibilities within the sector, spanning from production to cutting-edge technology and beyond.”

On the first day, students explored the meat processing industry with a visit to JBS Townsville and learnt more about the 160+ direct job roles within The Port of Townsville, which included a tour of the premises.

Day two featured a behind-the-scenes tour at North Queensland Fresh in Bowen, showcasing the journey of capsicums from farm to consumer, technological advancements, and diverse career options available in produce. Students also explored Ag-related courses at TAFE Townsville and experienced cutting-edge technology, including Farmbot and VR headsets, before embarking on a visit to Coral Coast Barramundi, where students got to see Barramundi varieties as well as the hatching sheds and outdoor ponds.

Day three saw students delve into the world of prawn farming with Pacific Reef Fisheries. They explored the different areas within the business, from prawn spawning to packing, and learnt about the efficiency improvements brought by their algae farm, Pacific Bio. The final tour of the day took them to Rocks Farming Company, Queensland’s largest family-owned sugarcane farm. Students had the chance to tour the 2700-hectare enterprise and see first-hand how it uses technological advancements to improve its operations.

Louise Nicholas, Teacher of Agricultural Science at Home Hill State High School said programs like AgInspiration offer invaluable insights and are the key to fostering the next generation of agricultural workers and innovators. 

“The engagement of the Home Hill State High School Year 10 and Year 11 students over this three-day tour has provided a unique opportunity to witness local agriculture in action, fostering a deeper appreciation for the complexities, challenges, and innovations within the field,” said Ms Nicholas. 

“This exposure can spark their interest, instil a passion for agriculture, and motivate them to pursue careers that contribute to the industry’s growth and resilience. The importance of such initiatives cannot be overstated, as they bridge the gap between theoretical learning and practical application, making education more relevant and inspiring for all.  

“This outlook allows students to make informed choices about their future and potentially become the next generation of agricultural leaders, contributing to the sustainability, evolving needs and growth of this crucial industry.  

“This has been such an amazing professional development opportunity, providing currency and relevance to support the accurate transfer of knowledge and understanding to my students.” 

The AgInspiration program took place in the Burdekin from 10 – 12 of October 2023.