Industry joining agriculture education’s future at NAAE conference in Launceston

Industry representatives formed nearly a quarter of attendees at the National Association of Agricultural Educators conference in Launceston this week, highlighting the strengthening links between education and business going forward.

Tasmanian Agricultural Education Network publicity officer and Hagley Farm Primary School lead agricultural teacher Andrew Harris said the conference had been an intense four days of progressive, in-depth discussions.

Representatives from organisations around Australia congregated for the bi-annual conference, including digital agricultural education advocate Tim Gentle, who spoke on virtual reality and its implementation in schools.

Mr Harris said interstate education experts had heaped high praise on the state’s agriculture education framework, implemented in 2016, noting the benefits of having an Education Minister who is also Agriculture Minister.

“To have [the other states] paying the ultimate compliment in identifying our framework we’ve designed in this state as something that could be adopted or used to guide such a thing nationally – that’s exciting,” he said.

Mr Harris said the state government and Education Department had been particularly supportive of the conference, with the next steps being developing the network of agricultural educators further.

“The really exciting thing is … coming from Tasmania, with everything that’s happened in the past few years in agriculture, for us agriculture and innovation speaks volumes about the state,” NAAE representative Catriona Nicholls said.

She said the conference had showcased the positive engagement between industry and education sectors in fostering a stronger understanding of agriculture and its role in the state’s future.

“What we need to do at a state level is maintain and grow those relationships with industry, and show them they belong in education,” she said.

The NAAE conference will next be held in NSW in 2020.