NT farmers to open their gates to teaching community, as part of innovative new program to bridge the urban-rural divide

Teachers from across the Northern Territory are urged to apply for a unique opportunity to learn first-hand from some of the Top End’s most progressive farmers, as they open their gates to showcase the latest advancements in ag technology and sustainable production as part of the innovative Teacher Farm Experience Program (TeacherFX).

The two-day professional development program – to be held on September 9 and 10 – aims to equip educators with an increased understanding and interest in food production, with a particular focus on how they can adopt the learnings into their STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and digital technology curriculums.

As the first TeacherFX program to be held in Australia, following last year’s successful pilot in Western Australia, it is part of a wider initiative – spearheaded by agribusiness banking specialist, Rabobank and its farming clients – to bridge the urban-rural divide.

Feedback from last year’s pilot indicated that prior to attending the program, half of the teachers were not connected, or only distantly connected, to the agricultural industry. However, after completing the pilot program, almost all (96 per cent) said they would encourage their students to consider a career in agriculture.

“TeacherFX is a fantastic initiative,” said program organiser and Rabobank Northern Territory and North Queensland Client Council member Val Dyer, “as it gives teachers the opportunity to see ‘on the ground’ how agriculture works up here.

“With much of our agriculture taking place in remote areas away from urban centres, there is not a lot of knowledge around what happens on the farm. So this will be a wonderful and unique opportunity for teachers to experience the activities taking place on properties and meet those involved in the industry in the NT.”

With rising employment opportunities right across the ag supply chain, including the NT, Mrs Dyer said the sector offered an exciting career path for those who hadn’t grown up on a farm.

“There is an enormous demand for young people to pursue a career in agriculture, whether it be in the tech space, as a consultant, researcher or scientist,” she said.

Mrs Dyer said TeacherFX – a joint initiative of Rabobank’s NT/North QLD Client Council (a group of the bank’s farming clients who meet to discuss issues and implement initiatives to contribute to the sustainability of rural communities) and CQUniversity Australia (CQUni), with support from the Northern Territory Farmers Association and Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association – aimed to provide teachers with the skills and knowledge to pass on to their teaching colleagues and students.

“In the past, many teachers had a strong link to agriculture – with family or friends on-farm – but this link is not as prevalent anymore,” she said. “This is one way we can help bridge that gap and ensure agriculture is included in the classroom.”

With CQUni providing the professional support for the program’s development, resources for teachers to take home and evaluation measures to record its success, CQUni Research Fellow in agri-tech education and innovation, Dr Amy Cosby said the upcoming TeacherFX would be the first personal development opportunity of its kind for teachers in the Territory.

“The program offers a rare opportunity for teachers to undertake a professional development program, focused on STEM and digital technology, right on their doorstep,” she said. “And feedback from last year’s pilot found all those who attended would recommend their colleagues attend the program.”

Dr Cosby said the feedback also found 40 per cent of teachers – prior to attending TeacherFX – didn’t incorporate food and fibre into their teaching programs. However, after completing the program, 90 per cent said their confidence, knowledge and skills had improved, allowing them to incorporate food and fibre concepts into their teaching.

With plans afoot to roll-out TeacherFX across Australia, Rabobank regional manager for North Queensland and Northern Territory Trent McIndoe said it was exciting the Northern Territory had been selected as the location for the inaugural program.

“Many people don’t get the opportunity to see first-hand the scale and breadth of operations up here,” he said. “But those on the program will get to visit a large outback cattle station near Katherine, an asparagus and mango operation and a livestock export handling facility.”

The second day of the program will include a tour of the NT Department of Primary Industries and an industry and careers panel session. Mr McIndoe said teachers would also be equipped with interactive resources – including learning how to collect and analyse data from a mango operation – to take back to their classrooms.

Mr McIndoe said there was no charge for teachers to attend TeacherFX, which included meals, accommodation with local farming families and return bus transport from Darwin.

For more information or to lodge an application to attend the program (by August 20, 2019) head to www.teacherfx.com.au

Rabobank Australia is a part of the global Rabobank Group, the world’s leading specialist in food and agribusiness banking. Rabobank has 120 years’ experience providing customised banking and finance solutions to businesses involved in all aspects of food and agribusiness. Rabobank is structured as a cooperative and operates in 38 countries, servicing the needs of approximately 8.4 million clients worldwide through a network of more than 1000 offices and branches. Rabobank is one of Australia’s leading agricultural lenders and a significant provider of business and corporate banking and financial services to the food and agribusiness sector.


Media contacts:

Denise Shaw
Head of Media Relations
Rabobank Australia & New Zealand 
Phone: 02 8115 2744 or 0439 603 525 
Email: denise.shaw@rabobank.com  

Skye Ward
Media Relations Manager
Rabobank Australia
Phone: 02 4855 1111 or 0418 216 103
Email: skye.ward@rabobank.com