Pilot program connecting young farmers with new tech
Author: Riley Upton
As published in The Maryborough District Advertiser, 16 April 2121
A new program aiming to support the next generation of young farmers with opportunities for learning, networking and first-hand experience kicked off locally last week.
Organised and run by Driscoll AG, the Next Gen pilot program commenced last Wednesday and will see young people with an interest in agriculture supported and mentored over the next 12 to 18 months.
The program currently has 24 people enrolled, ranging in age from 16 to 24 and Driscoll AG Director Troy Driscoll said the initiative is all about supporting and engaging with the next generation of farmers.
“The idea is to get young people from our region who are interested in agriculture together in a room where we’ll have forums throughout the year showing them different technologies in agriculture and providing an opportunity to see what’s happening in agriculture,” he said.
“This is a way of giving back to agriculture and young people and if it helps the 24 people we’ve got involved, that’s gold.
“We get a lot of joy and satisfaction out of helping young people further their learning.”
Mr Driscoll said catch up sessions or forums will be held throughout the year and will hopefully build networks for participants.
“What we’re also trying to promote with these young people is networking and building relationships with like-minded people in our region both socially and from a work perspective,” he said.
“Some of the people are from the Maryborough area, others are from St Arnaud and they may not know each other, so this is a good chance to also meet new people.”
As a part of further building networks, Mr Driscoll said there will be excursions to working farms and factories to show young people how other farmers operate and to experience different aspects of the industry.
“You do find sometimes that young farmers might be exposed to their own farm only and that’s not necessarily a negative, but I think getting them to look and think outside of the square is important and that can be achieved by seeing other farms and how other farmers operate,” he said.
“We’re trying to provide another avenue of learning with this program, so visiting businesses like Goldacres in Ballarat where both trailing and self-propelled boomsprays are designed and built will be on our agenda.
“We’ll also take them out onto different farms and trial sites to see different crops and new chemistries coming through.”
Mr Driscoll said a big part of the program is getting young people to engage with young people, with younger Driscoll Ag staff members driving the initiative.
“We feel that getting young people engaging with each other is really important,” he said.
“We’re really keen to see young people, like Lewis Cain who’s been with us for 12 months and Amber Perry who’s been here for 6 years really drive this program and engage other young farmers.
“We’re already getting really good feedback about the program and the topics we cover each session are different, there’s always something new to cover.”
For more information about the program or to get involved if you are a young person working in or with an interest in agriculture, contact Troy on 0428 641 112.