THIS year's Wimmera Machinery Field Days will have a greater focus on education and development.
The region's biggest agriculture gathering has teamed up with Partners in Ag to provide a range of expert presentations and learning opportunities for both school students and industry workers alike.
Partners in Ag business development officer Katherine Colbert said, while agriculture forums were held at the field days in 2015, this year's program would have an increased focus on agriculture education.
"We're very fortunate that the field days committee has given us the end of the Country Lifestyle pavilion to work with. It will be dedicated to panels and discussions talking about the latest issues facing agriculture, with a particular focus on some Wimmera-specific topics," she said.
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Mrs Colbert said she hoped the new focus would help attract more schools to the event.
Part of this will include educational talks about agriculture careers, while the new Ag Ed Quest will provide teachers and parents with a structured story-based tour of the field days site with the theme 'A Year on our Farm'.
"We want to make it easier for teachers by providing them with itineraries and pre-field days worksheets to do in class to give students some context about what they'll see at field days," Mrs Colbert said.
"Those packs will be sent out to all the schools that register before they visit. We'd encourage schools that haven't been before or haven't been in a while to register for the packs on the Partners in Ag website."
The site's new Ag Futures pavilion will feature a range of talks, panel discussions and presentations during the three day event.
"Part of that will be talks to students about what agriculture industry careers there are in the Wimmera," she said.
"We feel like there is a bit of a disconnect between what the students see as potential careers and what careers there actually are.
"Agriculture careers aren't just the farmer or the stock agent; pretty much everything you can study can have a relation to agriculture at some point.
"While people might have to leave the area to study, there are endless opportunities for careers back in the Wimmera."
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Mrs Colbert said it was important to encourage young people to consider a career in agriculture.
"People who move from metropolitan areas to the country don't realise what opportunities there are until they get here," she said.
"There's a real potential for young Wimmera people, if they're given the right connections and discover what they have access to here, that they will more than likely consider the Wimmera as a place to live, work and raise a family later in life.
"The biggest opportunity for our smaller towns is teaching the people who have grown up around the agriculture industry to appreciate it."
We're very excited to be working with @wimfielddays with a new pavilion filled with amazing guest speakers on all things #AusAg#agtech. Stay tuned for more information on who's coming to this year's #WimmeraFieldDays.#agchatoz#futureoffarming#agriculture#fielddays#Wimmerapic.twitter.com/SEIxgatvrU— Partners in Ag (@PartnersInAg1) January 30, 2020
Alongside the agriculture careers discussions will be a lineup of presentations from agriculture experts across all three days of the event.
"Topics will be mostly Wimmera specific, for instance we're hoping to get someone from the Bureau of Meteorology to talk about the Rainbow Weather Radar," she said.
"There will also be talks about how to communicate in a family farm situation and on new farm technology."
Other expert discussion topics will include precision agriculture, soil moisture probes and protein.
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