Using art as a means to connect with agriculture has been a winning formula for The Archibull Prize for many years, and now Art4Agriculture’s AgDay Careers Competition is replicating this on a smaller scale. In the Careers Competition students are tasked with creating and photographing a Lego character (or using one supplied by partner Little Brick Pastoral), identifying their strengths and then using multiple resources and 21st century enterprise skills to present a pathway to a career in agriculture.
14 year-old Hamish Maclure from Yanco Agricultural College was the 2018 winner of the middle school section of the Careers Competition and his story shows how the program’s blend of creativity, research and literacy can attract and engage all students.
Hamish lives on his family’s 5000 acres mixed grazing farm near Tarcutta in New South Wales and is heavily involved with cattle showing and junior judging. He has competed in three states across Australia this year. He lists his favourite school subjects as maths, science and agriculture but being dyslexic means writing and literacy are not his fortes. However Hamish knows how to best use his resources and chose to research a career as a stock and station agent because “I like to travel and to meet other people and to analyse cattle and sheep.”
Stuart McVittie teaches agriculture to Hamish and his fellow Year 8 students and thought the competition would be a great idea to get kids thinking about opportunities in agriculture much earlier than they normally would, and to help them choose subjects for future school years. Stuart also involved the school’s career advisor who showed the students how to access resources to research agricultural careers.
“Writing is not Hamish’s strength and neither is using computers but he is a practical type of student, which is why he loves handling and showing cattle,” Stuart says. “Getting Hamish to write that story was an excellent task on his behalf. The Art4Agriculture Competition has increased his confidence and given him some positive feedback.”
Hamish’s mother Belinda agrees. “Hamish has done really well in the cattle showing ring but we’re so proud of this because its literacy, which is something he has really struggled with.”. Belinda also believes the competition has taught the students valuable communication and enterprise skills. “The kids had to email their entries themselves to Lynne [Strong] and had to manage that communication, which is I think is a great skill for them to learn.” Learning and experience also comes from making mistakes and when the Yanco students neglected to manage their email communication effectively they missed out on knowing three of them had made the finals and that Hamish had won his division. They also missed out on the awards ceremony in Sydney! “Hamish has learnt a really good lesson about checking his emails,” Belinda says.
For Hamish the competition has meant stepping out of his comfort zone and crystallising thoughts on his future. “It gets us thinking about what we want to do when we leave school and makes us do things that we sometimes don’t want to do but are very important to us. For example we might not want to do the [writing] competition but if it helps us in the long term it is always a good thing.”
“We were stoked that we had a number of kids into the final seven and that Hamish won it,” Stuart says. “We’re quite proud of our kids and I’m glad we had the opportunity to be part of the Art4Agriculture program. It’s been fantastic.”
Although Hamish missed the awards ceremony in November, he and Belinda travelled to the Sydney Royal Easter Show in April where Little Brick Pastoral’s Aimee Snowden made a special presentation of an iPad donated by Career Harvest.