School students engage their minds and their hands at UNE

Published 30 October 2013

organic-vegetablesHow do you run a livestock operation, plan a crop budget, recognise a diseased vine or test your soil ?

More than 300 high school agriculture students from across NSW will be offered practical experiences like these as they test run a career on the land during the University of New England’s inaugural UNE Agrifood Experience Day on Friday November 1.

The event is to introduce UNE’s ground-breaking new Bachelor of Agrifood Systems degree, which focuses on practical learning in the paddock and actually requires students to work in the sector as part of the qualification.

Much like the degree, the UNE Agrifood Experience Day is about giving students hands on experiences that will inspire them to make a future in agriculture.

The UNE Bachelor of Agrifood Systems course coordinator Michael Williams says participating school students will be put on the spot to solve many common day-to-day farming and production issues.

“These are the sort of problems that all the theoretical learning in the world just can’t properly prepare you for, but having the chance to get hands on with these situations and work a solution is an invaluable learning opportunity.” Mr Williams said.

Some of the activities planned for the UNE Agrifood Experience Day include meat quality testing, selecting crop varieties to suit growing conditions, developing production budgets and monitoring and testing soil. Students will perform the tasks themselves while they learn the theory behind the action.

“For these High School students the activities are a chance to build a better understanding of the science and technology that supports best practice farming. This will give a broader context to their classroom learning and an idea of what a career in farm management involves.

“We would hope that this sort of practical learning experience really confirms their passion for Agriculture and we will see them again soon, coming back through UNE as new students,” Mr Williams said.

He said the University of New England is already Australia’s leading provider of high quality and highly employable Environmental and Rural Science graduates, because of a long-running focus on the practical applications of learning.

“The UNE Bachelor of Agrifood Systems takes this concept further, creating a degree, from beginning to end, that is best completed in the paddock to improve the lives and learning from those people already working in the agriculture sector,” Mr Williams said.