Almost 600 school students will learn about job opportunities in agriculture and where their food comes from at a major agricultural education event in Toowoomba this week that will be the last of its kind because of Government funding cuts.
AgForce CEO Michael Guerin says the ‘Moo Baa Munch’ agricultural awareness event at Downlands College was one of the most popular events co-ordinated by the School to Industry Partnership Program (SIPP).
“The SIPP team connects school students of all ages with agriculture and that’s particularly important in an area like the Darling Downs that is renowned as one of Australia’s agricultural powerhouses.”
“Events like ‘Moo Baa Munch’ provide the first opportunity for many children to touch cattle and chickens, to learn that cotton is from a plant and to pull vegetables from a garden.”
“It’s also a chance for high school students to learn about the many and varied careers in agriculture and this week we have a record number of agribusinesses and industry representatives taking part, including businesses involved with seed testing, drones and computer mapping.”
“It’s fantastic to see so many children engaging with agriculture this week and learning about one of the fastest growing industries in the country, but it’s also sad events like this won’t be able to go ahead in the future due to State Government funding cuts.”
Mr Guerin says more than 330 primary school students and 230 secondary school students from 13 schools throughout the West and Darling Downs would attend the event today and tomorrow.
“With 83 % of Australians describing their connection with agriculture as distant or non-existent, the industry already facing skills shortages and technology transforming the way we farm, SIPP is now more relevant than ever,” he said.
“This week’s event drives home just how much support there is for this agricultural education program from industry, schools, teachers and students.”
“That’s why we’re calling on the Government to reverse its decision to cancel funding for SIPP and to increase its investment so more events like today’s ‘Moo Baa Munch’ in Toowoomba can be held right throughout Queensland.”
AgForce has supported and managed the School to Industry Partnership Program since it began in 2004 with 100% of funds going towards whole-of-agriculture education activities and services.
The annual budget is $181,000 with two part-time staff employed to deliver the program.