Reimagining Education: The Imperative for Evolution Beyond the 150-Year-Old Classroom Model

As we navigate the 21st century, a striking reality confronts us: our classrooms, the very epicentres of learning and development, have remained largely unchanged for over a century. This observation prompts an urgent question: Why do our educational spaces still mirror those of 150 years ago, and more importantly, how can we reshape them to better prepare our students – who represent not just 20% of our current population but 100% of our future?

The Static Classroom: A Legacy of the Past

Historically, the traditional classroom model was designed for a different era – one that valued rote learning and standardisation. This system, with its rows of desks and a teacher at the front, was meant to instil discipline and uniformity, reflecting the industrial age’s demands. However, this model is increasingly at odds with today’s dynamic and interconnected world.

The Need for Evolution in Education

  1. Embracing Technological Integration: We live in a digital age where technology plays a pivotal role in every aspect of life. Education must keep pace with this evolution. Integrating technology into learning not only makes education more engaging but also more relevant, equipping students with the digital literacy skills they need for the future.
  2. Fostering Critical Thinking and Creativity: The future demands innovators and problem solvers. A transformation from rote memorisation to an emphasis on critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving skills is essential. Classrooms should be spaces where questioning is encouraged, and creativity is nurtured.
  3. Preparing for a Globalised World: Our students are not just citizens of their hometowns or countries but of a global community. Education must reflect this reality, offering a global perspective and teaching cultural awareness and empathy.
  4. Personalised Learning Paths: Recognising that each student is unique, with different strengths, interests, and learning styles, is crucial. Modern education should move towards more personalised learning experiences, allowing students to explore and learn at their own pace.
  5. Collaborative and Interactive Learning Environments: The future workplace values collaboration and teamwork. Classrooms should mimic this, encouraging group projects and interactive learning, breaking away from the isolation of traditional desk arrangements.

Our Call to Action

While students may only represent a fraction of our current population, they indeed embody the entirety of our future. The need for education to evolve is not just a necessity but an imperative. We must break free from the constraints of the past and reimagine our classrooms as dynamic, inclusive, and forward-thinking spaces. Only then can we truly prepare our students for the challenges and opportunities of the future.

This evolution in education is not just an investment in individual learners but in the future of our society and the world at large. It’s time to embrace change and make education a true reflection of the ever-evolving world we live in.


#FutureOfEducation #EvolvingClassrooms #EducationalReform #21stCenturyLearning  #InnovativeTeaching #DigitalLiteracy #GlobalEducation #CreativeLearning #PersonalisedEducation

#InteractiveLearning #EducationTransformation #RethinkingEducation #StudentCentredLearning

#TechInEducation #EmpoweringStudents

By visiting, you’re not just exploring an educational resource; you’re stepping into a community dedicated to shaping a smarter, more sustainable future. Join us in this exciting journey!

Embrace Excellence, Follow Finland: A Call to Action for Sustainable Education!


We often spend a lot of time trying to come up with new ideas, even when there are proven methods that work well. Finland has done a great job in achieving goals for education and sustainable development. They focus on ensuring teachers are well-trained, treating students fairly, and encouraging creativity.

Photo source

Instead of always trying to invent new ways of doing things, we could learn from Finland’s success. By following their example, we can save time and resources and make progress in education and sustainable development more effectively. It’s like using a roadmap that has already been tested and found to lead to success, rather than constantly trying to find a new path.

In light of Finland’s exemplary model in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and education targets and Action4Agriculture’s extensive monitoring, evaluating and reporting, we recommend that the government undertake a comprehensive policy overhaul to enhance the quality and inclusivity of our education system.

Drawing inspiration from Finland’s key success factors, we propose the following initiatives:

  1. Commitment to Education as a Fundamental Right:
    • Establish and reinforce a national commitment to education as a fundamental right for all citizens, ensuring access and opportunity for every student.
  2. Equitable Education System:
    • Implement measures to reduce disparities among schools and regions, fostering a standardized education system that prioritizes equality and addresses educational inequalities.
  3. Teacher Training and Professionalism:
    • Invest in rigorous teacher training programs to elevate the qualifications and professionalism of educators, acknowledging their pivotal role in the success of the education system.
  4. Child-Centric Approach:
    • Shift the focus from standardized testing towards fostering creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills, aligning educational practices with the broader goals of sustainable development.
  5. Holistic Well-Being:
    • Incorporate a holistic approach to education, valuing not only academic achievement but also the overall well-being of students. Integrate health and well-being components into the curriculum.
  6. Social Welfare Policies:
    • Develop and enhance social welfare policies that create a supportive environment for students, addressing healthcare, social security, and family support to indirectly contribute to various SDGs beyond education.
  7. Innovation and Adaptability:
    • Promote innovation and adaptability within the education system, fostering an environment that evolves to meet the changing needs of society and equipping students for the challenges of the future.
  8. Collaboration and Consensus:
    • Encourage collaboration and consensus-building in education policymaking, involving stakeholders such as teachers, parents, and policymakers to create a sense of ownership and commitment to the education system.
  9. Focus on Lifelong Learning:
    • Recognize the importance of lifelong learning by designing educational programs that instill a love for learning throughout individuals’ lives, aligning with Finland’s successful approach.
  10. Environmental Sustainability:
    • Integrate environmental sustainability into educational practices and curriculum, aligning with broader SDGs beyond education and contributing to a global agenda for a sustainable future.

Conclusion: By adopting these recommendations, our government can pave the way for a more inclusive, equitable, and sustainable education system. Emulating Finland’s successful model will not only contribute to achieving SDGs but will also foster a society that values education as a cornerstone for sustainable development and societal well-being.

#FollowFinland #SustainableEducationNow #LearnFromTheBest #GlobalGoals #EducationForAll #SDGSuccess #InnovateWithPurpose #HolisticLearning #FutureLeaders #SmartChoices


Cultivating Tomorrow’s Leaders: The Impact of Action4Agriculture’s Young Environmental Champions Program

In an era defined by global challenges, Action4Agriculture’s Young Environmental Champions (YEC) program stands as a beacon of transformative education for primary and secondary school students.

This innovative initiative empowers young minds to be effective communicators, critical thinkers, and leaders capable of tackling pressing global issues. Partnering with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the YEC program is a 10-week action learning journey that combines in-person and online workshops, leadership coaching, and mentorship, actively pairing students with community experts as role models and workshop co-hosts.

Empowering Through Education:

The YEC journey covers a diverse range of topics, including SDGs, team building, project management, design thinking, systems thinking, and community action planning. The program guides students to investigate global issues, appreciate diverse perspectives, communicate effectively, and take action on matters vital to them. With a youth-led and co-designed approach, the YEC program creates an environment where students become architects of their own learning experience.

Real-World Impact:

The success of the YEC program is evident in the array of impactful projects undertaken by students. From sustainable fishing and waste management to mental health improvement and climate action, these young environmental champions are reshaping communities. For instance, Hamilton Public School’s “People Power” project, focusing on SDGs 3 (Good Health and Wellbeing) and 13 (Climate Action), promotes people-powered modes of transport to enhance community health. Meanwhile, St Joseph’s Lochinvar won in the secondary section with a flood mitigation project aligning with SDGs 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure) and 15 (Life on Land).

Measuring Impact:

A comprehensive evaluation conducted by Danielle Blenkhorn from Sustainable Schools highlights the profound positive impact of the YEC program. Read the report here 


Key findings include:

  1. Dynamic Leadership Development:
    • The program serves as a dynamic leadership initiative, motivating students to become agents of change.

  1. Deepened Understanding of SDGs:
    • Participants develop a deeper understanding of the SDGs, with a notable increase in knowledge levels by the program’s completion.

  1. Enhanced Skills and Wellbeing:
    • Students report increased 21st-century skills, including heightened confidence in areas promoting resilience and wellbeing.
    • Improvement in communication skills, teamwork, problem-solving, and project planning.
  2. Positive Changes in Student Actions:
    • Participating students report changing thoughts and actions on sustainability, including increased knowledge, improved skills, and empowerment to take individual and collective action.
  3. Notable Confidence Boosts:
    • Substantial increases in students’ confidence levels observed across various areas, such as seeking help from teachers, developing school project plans, and contributing to community improvement.

  1. Transformational Impact on Students:
    • Anecdotal evidence highlights the program’s transformative impact, leading to increased engagement, confidence, and personal growth.

In essence, the Youth Environmental Champions program is not merely an educational endeavor; it’s a catalyst for positive shifts in attitudes, confidence, and proactive engagement among the participating students. As these young minds graduate from the program, they carry with them the skills and mindset essential for shaping a sustainable and resilient future. Action4Agriculture is sowing the seeds of leadership, and the Youth Environmental Champions are poised to reap a harvest of positive change.

#YouthLeadership #EnvironmentalChampions #Action4Agriculture #SDGsInAction #TransformativeEducation #FutureLeaders #GlobalChangemakers #SustainableFuture #YouthEmpowerment #InnovationInEducation #ResilientCommunities #ClimateAction #CommunityEngagement #LeadershipDevelopment #YouthInAg #PositiveImpact #EducationForChange #InspiringLeadership #EmpowerTheFuture #SustainabilityJourney #YouthVoice #21stCenturySkills #CultivatingLeadership #YouthAction #ChangemakersInTraining


A Journey to Regeneration with Belltrees Public School

At Action4Agriculture we believe tomorrow’s problems can be solved today, if we can break down silo thinking and move beyond self interest to a collaborative model that sees people and organisations working together for the greater good.

Today we celebrate Belltrees Public School and their collaborators – a beacon of hope showing others it can be done


“Go to the experts and then bring the experts back”

Belltrees Public is a small school with big ambitions. Located east of Scone in the Upper Hunter Valley, this school, which in 2023 has only 3 students, is on a mission to become the greenest little school in Australia.

Students engage in a range of sustainability-based programs, led by a Youth Environmental Council, including carbon-emission reduction, waste minimisation and slow food but it is their award-winning (National Sustainable Communities – Young Legend award) journey to agricultural regeneration that truly showcases the power of entrusting our future to the young.

The catalyst for this remarkable journey was a barren school paddock. While standing around this area, void of life in 2019’s challenging drought, a question was asked to local farmer, Rob Scott:

“How do we prepare these students for the challenges they’ll face with changing climatic conditions?”

Rob replied: “Have you heard of regenerative farming?”

Rob’s response prompted a school visit to the Mulloon Institute at Bungendore in NSW, but this was more than a simple excursion.

“Belltrees Public School wanted to support the community in the midst of the worst drought in a century. So, in discussion with Rob, we set the task of hosting an excursion for local farmers to come with the school to learn about regenerative agriculture principles. We secured funding to ensure no farmers were financially restricted from attending, organised our experts and opened it up to students, families and local farmers to attend,” Belltrees principal Shane Roberts says.

Following their adopted motto of “go to the experts and then bring the experts back”, in 2021 the school community hosted a field day on their grounds. Special guest was Martin Royds, who took the opportunity to meet with local farmers outside the school environment. Also involved with the field day were the Warrambungles National Park Environmental Education Centre, the Sydney Royal Botanical Gardens, Hunter Local Land Services and Murrurundi and Ellerston Public Schools.

The journey continued in 2022 with another excursion, this time to Armidale to visit five regenerative farms, and again the experts were brought back to the Upper Hunter where 80 farmers attended a field day. In conjunction, Belltrees organised a tree planting day enlisting Costa Georgiadis, Upper Hunter Landcare and Wallabadah and Martindale Public Schools to help celebrate their success.

In the process the once barren paddock has been transformed. A groundswell of interest in regenerative practices from the students, staff and parents now sees chickens and sheep sharing space with an orchard and vegetable plots. Neighbouring schools have taken an active interest in this real-world model for learning about sustainability and beyond the revived school plot countless hectares in the community are benefitting from regenerative agriculture as local farmers ride the wave with the students.

Byron and Fiona Hubbard from Balarang Station in the Upper Hunter are two of those farmers.

“We have been involved with the Belltrees Public School regenerative journey for the past four years and have really enjoyed watching the whole community get behind it and learn from the experiences we have all had together …. To share this with fellow members of our farming community made it all too easy to benefit from the experience. We have all gone on to implement some of these practices into our farm and this has influenced others to try the same,” Byron says.

The Belltrees community has come together to support this journey. Fund-raising enabled participants beyond the school to attend and contribute and this has been re-paid as farmers and other experts have ensured students are maximising their educational opportunities.

“At the core of our efforts has been collaboration. Reaching out to experts in the field to support our next generation better understand the challenges and opportunities that the future holds is key to our planning. We have focused on addressing the Sustainable Development Goals through our schools Youth Environment Council. Each project we have embarked on has led our small school to forming strong relationships with individuals, organisations and collaborators who have guided, supported and mentored us through our efforts,” Shane says.

The journey to regeneration continues. In October the school will host a Paddock to Plate Day and in November will run a Journey to Regeneration field day incorporating the screening of “Rachel’s Farm”, a documentary looking at actor Rachel Ward’s own regenerative journey.

Rachel Ward may have the clout that comes from a life in film-making. Belltrees Public School has the clout of their community and an unwavering commitment to harness a far greater audience – our young people.



Young Farming Champions are celebrating milestones with a Nuffield Scholar and a film-maker

Our Young Farming Champions represent all manner of food and fibre industries and this week we are celebrating with Steph Tabone (horticulture) and Bryan Van Wyk (fishing). So, as you plan a prawn and vege stir-fry for dinner tonight, let’s go behind the scenes and look at two young people helping put the food on your plate.

We are proud to announce that Steph is our first Nuffield Scholar! Steph, who works as a researcher with Applied Horticulture Research, was announced as a 2024 Scholar at a gala dinner in Perth held in September.

2024 Nuffield Scholars with Steph Tabone 2nd from left in the front row 

Former Nuffield Scholar and now CEO of Nuffield Australia Jodie Redcliffe says farmer-led research is a proven recipe for success.

“For more than 70 years Nuffield Scholars have travelled the world, bringing home the latest intelligence, farming practices and developments to share with their peers. Their scholarship is an investment in themselves and their capacity to lead their business, their community and their industry by widening their knowledge and networks.”

Supported by Hort Innovation under the Vegetable Research and Development Levy, Steph will investigate the use of legumes as an alternative nitrogen source for vegetable cropping systems. She will use the $35,000 Nuffield Bursary to visit the US, Denmark, India and Brazil to connect with researchers and leading growers in this field.

“Nitrogen fertilisers have a large greenhouse gas emissions footprint through the manufacturing process, transport and in-field use, highlighting the need for alternate nitrogen solutions. Legumes can fix nitrogen from the atmosphere through a symbiotic relationship with rhizobia bacteria, can improve soil health and offer other rotational benefits. The challenge is knowing when the nitrogen will be released into plant-available forms. I hope to explore the factors that drive nitrogen release from organic residues, and the practical strategies that growers can use to sync the release with the nitrogen needs of a succeeding vegetable crop,” Steph says.

Spreading love for food industries in a totally different way is Bryan Van Wyk, fleet operations manager at Austral Fisheries, who has been busy behind and in front of the video camera.

Brian lives (and thrives) in northern Queensland and uses filmmaking to tell his story.

“Understanding food origin and how food selection can play a big role in overall sustainability is an important yet complicated process for the average consumer to understand. Film making is an effective way of enabling community members to absorb, digest and understand relatively complex stories about seafood through visual and audible experiences,” he says.

Bryan recently shared his love of fishing and north Queensland with an entry in the Mission Beach Outdoor Food Festival, earning fifth place for his high-octane entry.

“Film making (for now) is simply just a hobby for me that, hopefully, inspires others to get out and enjoy life or tell their story.”

You can catch Bryan’s film here.

Bryan is currently busy keeping the Austal fleet moving with the tiger prawn season but he has also incorporated film-making into his work by compiling branded Instagram reels and collecting underwater footage of bycatch reduction devices for educational videos. Recently he found himself on the other side of the camera when he starred in an Austral promotion for Coles. See him talking about the banana prawn industry and Austral’s role as conservationists of the sea here.

Steph and Bryan are both shining examples of young people excelling in Australia’s food and fibre industries and we are proud to call them Young Farming Champions.

Empowering young people to be global citizens – Celebrating the continued success of Paddock Pen Pals

In 2018 Young Farming Champion (YFC) Emma Ayliffe stood before a classroom of excited Sydney students participating in The Archibull Prize to talk about moisture probes and data collection in the cotton industry. But Emma was not anywhere near Sydney. Instead she was standing in a paddock of cotton stubble and it was the power of technology that allowed her to beam live into the classroom.

In Wilcannia YFC Bessie Thomas’ three year old daughter was receiving letters from students at Hamilton North Public School and the Action4Agriculture team was keen to build on the opportunity to offer schools the chance to connect with young people working in agriculture in innovative ways

With Emma’s session being an immediate success we realised the model could be replicated and scaled as Paddock Pen Pals. Paddock Pen Pals launched in 2019 at Carlingford West Public School in Sydney and, under the tutelage of teacher Zoe Stephens, 300 Year 6 students gained a first-hand look at the wool industry.

Four years down the track and Zoe and Carlingford West continue to rely on Paddock Pen Pals to give students a real-world agricultural insight and to prepare them to be global citizens. With international migration happening on a larger scale than ever and with Carlingford West having a high percentage of English as a second language students, cultural demographics are changing in the classroom. This demands new educational responses in a world where diversity is the norm.


Building relationships with young farmers offers students an opportunity for exchange of ideas and collaboration. The Paddock Pen Pals program is coordinated by Young Farming Champions’ Leadership Team member Emily May. in the recent round of Paddock Pen Pals at Carlingford West six Young Farming Champions engaged students with wool and horticulture.

Promoting wool were veterinarian Dione Fitzgerald, animal welfare researcher Danila Marini, sheep grazier Katherine Bain and sustainable agriculture project officer Katie Barnett.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“Participating in the Paddock Pen Pals program is always a valuable and enjoyable experience. It’s an opportunity to introduce students to the industry I love and just how much good is going on around them. The students are always so engaging and ask some of the greatest questions that I have ever received,” Danila says.

Danila’s presentation to the students can be viewed here.

Katherine was able to give students a look at a working sheep property and was also warmed by their interest.

“The kids asked some really good questions, especially about sheep welfare and working with the dogs,” she says.

Representing horticulture were DPI industry development officer Jessica Fearnley and researcher Steph Tabone.

Jess was able to relate agriculture to the students’ own lives.

“We discussed how trees can be looked after for best performance in a backyard and what the supply chain of horticultural industries looks like. It was a great opportunity to shed some light on the different processes in agriculture and how many steps there are to get from paddock to plate,” she says.

Paddock Pen Pals has morphed over the years as the Young Farming Champions refine their delivery and presentations using skills acquired in their own YFC training.

“I think we’ve got the format down pat with being able to see the classroom so that we can ask questions and see the hands go up, and with students coming up to the microphone and camera to ask questions. We were ahead of our time doing this in 2019 and it is great to continue to be part of this program,” Dione adds.

For Zoe Stephens, who has advocated for the program not only at Carlingford West but through her work with City Country Alliance of Schools, Paddock Pen Pals continues to be a rewarding experience.

“I want thank all the Young Farming Champions for helping to create another successful experience for our year 6 students. The students were all highly engaged, ready to ask questions and take copious notes. We all learnt so much. The YFC really are champions to give their time to inspire and inform these young minds. Their passion and commitment to sustainable and new innovative farming techniques is so exciting to see.”

Zoe has seen Paddock Pen Pals transform from simple beginnings to today’s highly detailed and interactive presentations, which can run multiple sessions simultaneously.

And the transformation has been recognised further this week with the release of the book “Primary Science Education – A Teacher’s Toolkit” by Anne Forbes.

“The innovative Paddock Pen Pals program was used to focus students’ attention on the sustainable production of food and fibre … [giving students] experiences of real-life experts.” Anne writes.


Action4Agriculture is delighted with Paddock Pen Pals continued success and the international exposure it will receive as part of Anne’s book.

Celebrating 2023 World Youth Skills Day at Action4Agriculture


Today,  July 15 is the United Nations World Youth Skills Day – a day to celebrate the strategic importance of equipping young people with skills for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship.

The 2023 theme is “Skilling teachers, trainers and youth for a transformative future.”

Does this sound familiar?

For over 15 years Action4Agriculture has been equipping young people with the skills to thrive in the 21st century and we have long been known for developing the four Cs of critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication. Building on our cornerstone programs of Young Farming Champions, The Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas we were thrilled to add two new programs to the stable in 2023 in Young Environmental Champions and Action4Youth to further explore these skills.

The Young Environmental Champions invited students to research the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and choose a global problem from which to derive a local solution for their school and community.

“Over 10 weeks, these young minds dedicated themselves to creating a social impact project that will bring about positive change in their communities and contribute towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” Action4Agriculture director Lynne Strong says. “Our young people are reshaping, rewiring and reimaging the future; a future where they will be the leaders.”

Action4Youth is a purpose-driven program to support young people from all backgrounds and experiences to thrive in a career in agriculture by:

  • Increased employer engagement in work-based learning pathways.
  • Improved learning and skills development experienced by young people.
  • Increased entry-level jobs offered to young people.

“It is widely recognised that the education and training systems we have in Australia aren’t fit for purpose and Action4Agriculture we are working with a dedicated group of people to address that. We were committed to ensuring the right people were at the table as part of our Action4Youth program and we were very excited to be able to identify those people from the Illawarra and South Coast of NSW and share that information with others so they can follow in our footsteps and replicate and scale our work and value add to their outcomes,” Lynne says.

All participants in Action4Agriculture programs have access to workshops facilitated by Josh Farr from Campus Consultancy covering 21st century topics including building teams, design thinking, developing stake-holder relationships, communication and agile project management.

“The benefits of participating in an Action4Agriculture initiative is the authenticity of learning and the development of real world skills. It enables young people to engage in real world systems, to understand constraints and structures on real world problems and to engage with experts in the field.

From each stage of the program students are encouraged to extend themselves and develop their skills. This is supported by their belief in their solutions and their passion to make a difference.” Secondary School Principal


According to the United Nations “technological advancements and shifting labour market dynamics increasingly call for agile and adaptable skill sets. It is crucial that we empower young people to navigate these changes effectively. Technical and vocational education and training (TVET) is well placed to meet these demands by reducing access barriers to the world of work, ensuring that skills gained are relevant, recognized and certified, promoting green skills and practices, and offering skills development opportunities for youth who are not in education, employment and training.

“On World Youth Skills Day, let us unite in recognizing the potential of young people as catalysts for change and commit to providing them with the skills and opportunities they need to build a prosperous and sustainable world for all. Together, we can shape a brighter future where no young person is left behind.”

This is an ethos enshrined in Action4Agriculture and we are proud to promote World Youth Skills Day and our role within the movement.

Image source 




Innovative Multistakeholder projects lifting collaboration rates

Australia has one of the lowest collaboration rates in the OECD

““Everyone I talk believes that the problem is academics … their incentives are very much associated with publish or perish.” Malcolm Turnbull

Whilst the blame game is often counterproductive, it is important we address the ramifications for research in agriculture which is too often only found behind paywalls. When the majority of this research is funded by the taxpayer it is important to find ways to make it available to all organisations doing applied research.

With support from funding from the National Careers Institute Action4Agriculture is on a journey to encourage a communities of practice model

  • A community of practice (CoP) is a group of people who share a common concern, a set of problems, or an interest in a topic and who come together to fulfill both individual and group goals.
  • Communities of practice often focus on sharing best practices and creating new knowledge to advance a domain of professional practice. Interaction on an ongoing basis is an important part of this.
  • Many communities of practice rely on face-to-face meetings as well as web-based collaborative environments to communicate, connect and conduct community activities. Source 

We are very excited to share with you our E-Book to support others to build successful multistakeholder partnerships

You can download it HERE 


#action4agriculture #careerswithpurpose #careerseducation


As the Action4Agriculture team puts the finishing touches on reporting what we learnt from the delivery of our project “ACTION4YOUTH – Explore-Connect-Support”  funded by the National Careers Institute we are collating the information and sharing it far and wide to encourage others to share their learnings.

One of the things we learnt was Australian students DO NOT have universal access to high quality work based learning.

To find the solutions to this barrier we went on a journey interviewing specialists in their field to find out what success would like for schools, students, school staff and employers.

Action4Agriculture is proud to be a solutions focused organisation sharing what we learn


#careerswithpurpose #careereducation

Why a whole of school approach is important for career education

A National Careers Institute Grant Case-study – why a whole of school approach is important for career education – BECOME EDUCATION


In 2023 Action4Agriculture launched a new program to assist disadvantaged youth into agricultural careers. Funded by the National Careers Institute the program, called Action4Youth, provides dedicated agricultural careers education by supporting teachers to create relatable content to ensure students see the link between their classes and the outside world, and therefore desire to attend school and learn.

Action4Youth incorporates three phases: EXPLORE-CONNECT-SUPPORT and in the EXPLORE phase students and teachers have access to the BECOME program including the web app and curriculum-aligned teaching resources, which allows students to visualise, design and examine pathways to possible careers.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Liv Pennie is the CEO and co-founder of BECOME and she firmly believes in the importance of quality career education for young people.

Source of photo here 

“The gap between evidence and practice in what works for young people is more chasm than gap. The traditional experience of ‘careers’ in schools hasn’t been great; as a field it’s suffered from a lack of imagination and innovation and as a result it’s often not a strategic priority in schools that have many competing priorities and pressures,” Liv says.

In order to address this problem Liv and her team created the BECOME program with a vision that doing careers education well is a vessel for good wellbeing outcomes.

“What’s often not understood is that this work, done properly, is powerful for shifting the things that are really important in schools – engagement and wellbeing, as well as preparing students with the skills to explore, design and navigate their future lives and careers in a rapidly changing world. By having the chance to explore broadly and think deeply about your future, coming up with possibilities that excite you and learning how to navigate towards that, students build awareness, aspiration and agency over their lives.”

Liv Pennie delivering Become Education PL at Bomaderry High School

To achieve optimum effectiveness careers education should begin early, ideally from upper primary years, and continue across the whole of school in secondary years. Early exposure to possible careers allows young people to pivot and tweak their ideas and aspirations, to explore broadly and to think deeply. It gives young people the grace of time rather than the pressure of decisions that may occur in the final years of school. “It is much better to practice and test ideas in a low stakes environment than once they’ve left school and invested time and money in an untested pathway only to discover it’s not quite right and feel like a failure,” Liv says.

The Become program is therefore purpose built for Years 5 to 12 and, fusing technology with research, it engages students and opens their minds to the broader possibilities of career areas rather than narrowing them down to a decision. It encourages and equips not only careers advisors but all teachers and parents to play a valuable role in student futures.

As Action4Youth focusses on youth who may not have the opportunities and advantages of others Liv’s vision for BECOME aligns perfectly.

“I want all young people to have the chance to define success for themselves and the opportunity to design their future rather than have it defined for them by who they are and where they are. Building awareness, aspiration and agency in young people can be a great leveller, addressing major inequality challenges.”

Another opportunity for young people to imagine their potential careers is to introduce them to young people, not dissimilar to themselves, working in different fields. In addressing the gaps between awareness and opportunity in the field of agriculture, initiatives like Young Farming Champions (YFC) can play this role. YFC is a network of early-career professionals working in agriculture that can provide inspiration and mentorship to both primary and secondary students. Liv believes role models such as YFC Danielle Fordham are powerful influencers helping young people to broaden their ideas of what’s possible for them.

Danielle Fordham – centre from row – with students and teachers at Lake Illawarra High School 

“Danielle grew up in western Sydney with no family history in agriculture so a career in the field wasn’t in her natural line of sight for people from her area or background. We know from our data that in a single school, on average, 48% of students aspire to the most common five careers for that school – ‘people like us have jobs like this’. We want to develop students’ awareness, aspiration and agency so they can have a future designed by them not defined for them. Danielle is a great example of someone who has changed lanes,” Liv says.

In 2023 Action4Youth and BECOME have created 19 curriculum-aligned lesson plans to support teachers and career practitioners to explore jobs in agriculture, identified 130 unique jobs in the dairy, wool and fishing industries and connected with 400 students in 22 schools. Taking a whole of school approach we’re helping disadvantaged young people to actively explore the whole world of work and in particular challenge the preconceptions they may have had about how varied and rewarding careers in agriculture could be.

#careers #careersinagriculture #careerswithpurpose