Lead Ag Teacher project to continue

AG EDUCATION: South Australian schools will continue to benefit from agriculture education into 2024 after previous success. Picture: FILE.

THE Lead Ag Teacher project is set to continue for another year thanks to the South Australian Sheep Industry Fund (SIF).

Funded by the South Australian Grain Industry Trust, the project aims to provide agricultural education in South Australian schools for 2024.

The SA Sheep Industry Fund has committed to fund the role as one of its 2023-24 approved projects.

AgCommunicators’ Lead Ag Teacher Sue Pratt plans to build on the success of the pilot phase of the Lead Ag Teacher project.

In her role, Ms Pratt will work with schools on-site, a deliberate strategy to support regional teachers who can find travelling to access expertise and professional development a barrier to progress.

Ms Pratt said she is excited to see food and fibre education included in more schools across all year levels.

“Having visited over 40 sites in the last 12 months, I have a clear picture of the key components of successful agricultural programs in schools and also the aspects that require the most urgent attention,” she said.

“The first step is mapping out how and where food and fibre content is being delivered to identify gaps and highlight where we need to spend some time with the ag team at a school.

“There are numerous ways agriculture can be built into the curriculum, so I can help a site work out the best plan for them, whether they have a school farm or not.”

Teachers and students have given positive feedback after receiving Ms Pratt’s support, resulting in increased confidence and enthusiasm for teaching agriculture after working with her.

“We have a lot of educators new to teaching agriculture who need support with curriculum, managing a school farm and budget, show programs and strategic planning,” she said.

“It has also been excellent to spend time with more experienced teachers who are really keen to fine-tune their programs to reflect what is happening in industry and inspire their students”.

For the 2024 school year, one of the key strategies that will be implemented is a structured program of teacher professional development that aims to combine face-to-face workshops with quick “after school” online sessions to reduce time away from school.

The online sessions will cover industry content like biosecurity and animal welfare but also look to extend teachers by considering new and emerging technologies and enterprises.

Livestock SA President Joe Keynes said the livestock industry continued to work on addressing the labour challenges it currently faced and the Lead Ag Teacher project was an important initiative in promoting agricultural careers.

“Industry blueprints identify the strategic investments needed and one of the priority areas of the SA Sheep Industry Blueprint is fostering a growing, skilled workforce,” he said.

“The SIF considered the Lead Ag Teacher project was an important component to achieving this and it made sense to capitalise on the success of the project’s pilot year that was previously funded by the grains industry.”

Access to the Lead Ag Teacher is free for South Australian teachers planning or currently delivering food and fibre programs in government, Catholic and independent schools.