To help combat the growing average age of farmers, former Mudgee ag teacher Cassandra Stanford has created a group for budding growers and producers.
Mudgee Youth in Agriculture group, or MY AG as it is known, aims to keep capable young people in the agricultural industry.
“I am passionate about agricultural education,” Cassandra said.
“I think it is important to promote agriculture in order to retain young people in the agricultural industry.
“It is becoming increasingly important to feed the ever expanding world population with reduced amounts of arable land, so we need to farm more efficiently and sustainably.
“The average age of farmers is also increasing and we need to recruit younger generations to take over.
“For every agricultural university graduate, there are more than three positions to be filled, which means we need to encourage more young people to become involved and stay involved in agriculture in order to create a sustainable and innovative industry.”
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MY AG started meeting at the beginning of May this year, however, discussions began when Cassandra began working at the Australian Rural Education Centre.
The MY AG group consists of a dozen members so far and is continuously expanding.
At this stage members range in age from 12 to 19, but Cassandra hopes in the future it will be open for high school age up to 25 year olds.
“I have wanted to start a similar group for a while and I recruited some ex-students to the group originally,” Cassandra said. “I then asked my sister, Bianca Williams, to be involved as she is on the committee of the ASC Next Gen group, which is also targeted at promoting agriculture to young people.
“There aren’t many similar groups around or many opportunities for young people who are interested in agriculture to further their knowledge and gain more skills.
“We worked together on concepts we could undertake and how we could promote the group to the wider Mudgee region.
“The group is focussing on creating an exhibit at the field days to begin with and we will look into the possibility of extending our activities in the future.
“The kids are passionate about agriculture and are loving the idea of promoting agriculture to more and more people.
“They are learning organisational and leadership skills, as well as improving their communication skills through interacting with the public. They love the social aspect of connecting with like-minded youths and being able to be involved in a group dedicated solely to agriculture!”