One of the best things about AgForce’s School-Industry Partnership Program (SIPP) is seeing the smile on a child’s face when they hold a lamb or “drive” a tractor for the first time.
It’s something that I, the SIPP team, teachers, family members and everyone who helps run the many SIPP events never tire of.
Over the past five years, more than 23,000 elementary and secondary students, 2,200 teachers and 450 industry partners have participated in a SIPP event – two of those years during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While COVID has shone a light on the importance of our country’s food security, a 2018 National Farmers Federation poll found that 52% of 18-29 year olds felt disconnected from farming. and uninformed about the agricultural industry.
The research also estimates that to meet our demands for food production, the Australian agricultural labor market requires more than 4,000 new people entering the labor market each year, but there are now only around 300 graduates. agricultural products each year, and 700 when related courses are considered.
The recent closures of agricultural colleges have clearly only increased the intrinsic value of SIPP to society.
SIPP raises awareness of the importance of agriculture in our daily lives, promotes a variety of interesting and rewarding agricultural careers, and provides opportunities for children and teachers to experience agriculture and the people who work in it” up close and personal” – helping them better understand the links between modern life and agricultural production.
Funding from the Federal Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment and the Queensland Department of Jobs, Small Business and Training paved the way for the growing number of applications from Queensland schools to engage with AgForce’s SIPP – but, significantly, we need continued support and collaboration – especially from government – if SIPP is to continue to thrive.
Continued and even increased support will allow the AgForce SIPP team to continue to deliver programs and events that further underscore the importance of agriculture to current and future generations – all while putting a smile on the face of every child (and adult) who frequents them.