Inspiring a new generation of hope for rural and regional Victoria

Community stories: 11 January 2021

Since 2010, the Rotary Club of Beaufort in Rotary District 9780 has been working with tertiary ag colleges, such as Marcus Oldham College and Longerenong College, to address the issue of their increasingly ageing communities. This has occurred as young people have needed to move to metropolitan areas to seek further education and work.

Held in September, Rotary District 9780’s Defying the Drift Program 2019, enabled year 9, 10 and 11 students from rural and regional western Victoria to explore options, formulate goals and implement strategies to assist them in developing career pathways in agriculture and agribusiness.

With the assistance of a $6,000 Tailored Grant from FRRR, funded with the support of the Geoff and Helen Handbury Foundation, the three-day vocational experience saw 29 students from small farming communities, isolated properties and larger towns serviced by surrounding agricultural enterprises, develop their self-confidence and ability to present their agricultural business aspirations.

Conducted at Longerenong College, Horsham, the students participated in networking and classroom activities that promoted career options in agriculture and training in public speaking. The students also had the opportunity to gain insight and inspiration by visiting a number of local farms and agribusinesses.

“The students gained great exposure to the possibilities of life in agriculture and gained a lot of confidence in public speaking and self-expression,” said Peter Oddie, Rotary District 9780’s Defying the Drift Committee Treasurer. “Many of our students are now making good contacts which may lead to future employment.”

2019 was the ninth year that the Defying the Drift Program was held, and the organising Committee is very proud of how the Program is growing and gaining exposure to the general community and Rotary Clubs in District 9780, and hopes to be able to offer the Program again in 2020.