Shaping Future Generations

Last year, GippsDairy joined forces with Murray Dairy and WestVic Dairy for the New Generation Skills for the Dairy Industry Project.

The three-year project commenced in July 2019 and is funded by the Victorian government regional skills fund, the three Victorian Regional Development Officers, Dairy Australia and the Gardiner Foundation. The investment provides funds for Careers Development Coordinators (CDCs) from each Victorian regional development program to work with the education sector. The projects aims to increase the uptake of dairy careers pathways and training, and attract a skilled workforce able to meet the future needs of the dairy industry.

Regional Extension Officer Sarah Cornell is GippsDairy’s CDC and is currently undertaking a number of projects in collaboration with schools to increase awareness of and engagement with dairy career pathways.

“This is such a great project and gives students insights into the dairy industry,” she says.

One of the projects is Broadening Horizons, an initiative that provides exciting opportunities for industry stakeholders like GippsDairy and Dairy Australia to work collaboratively with school students.

The Broadening Horizons initiative allows students and industry partners to work on real world industry related problems. Students are not only able to build relationships with industry mentors, but also learn more about an organisation’s functions and roles. At the same time, they develop collaborative, critical thinking and communication skills.

Not only does the Broadening Horizons program allow students greater insight into the dairy industry it also develops real-life skills to help them with their future career path.

This year under the Broadening Horizons Program, GippsDairy and Dairy Australia mentors are working with students from Maffra Secondary College students on various dairy related matters. Industry problems that students at Maffra Secondary College have chosen to examine include:


  • How to engage older dairy farmers with technology.
  • How to increase awareness of dairy career pathways for middle school students.
  • The effect of Covid-19 on dairy farmers and the dairy industry.
  • Pest control and biosecurity.
  • Tail docking.

Mentoring the secondary school students involves meeting with the students weekly or fortnightly either online or in-person (when not restricted by Covid-19), assisting students with industry contacts and sources of information so they can conduct their research and supporting the students as their projects, collaboration skills and enquiry skills evolve.

Students choose how they would like to present their project outcomes, such as in a video, poster or PowerPoint presentation, and come together for a presentation day with parents and mentors at the end of the collaborative period.

“It has been fantastic working with the students and we’re always on the lookout for more mentors. We’d would love to include some farmer mentors next year!” says Sarah Cornell.


Exploring more opportunities

Another organisation GippsDairy is working with to increase schools’ awareness of dairy industry pathways is the Careers Education Association of Victoria. GippsDairy was recently invited to participate in two online Industry Immersion sessions, one for metropolitan and regional schools and another for careers advisers and practitioners.

The presentations set the context of the broader dairy industry followed by examining careers and career pathways in the dairy industry both on and off farm. The focus was on the wide range of jobs available within the industry that are suited to all types of personalities, learning and working styles.

For example, students who like routine may be drawn to milking or tractor work. For those who thrive on communicating with people an extension role may be better suited. Creative students may be suited to a marketing, communications and engagement role. People who like a traditional learning style may enjoy a role which requires tertiary study, whilst those who prefer practical, hands-on learning may prefer to undertake a traineeship whilst working on farm.

“It was wonderful to have the opportunity to spread awareness of dairy career pathways across a wide range of schools and careers practitioners. There are so many great opportunities within the dairy industry, and I hope students take up the chance to explore them further,” says Sarah.

Another project aimed at increasing awareness of the great career opportunities in the dairy industry was the Virtual Careers Expo. As part of the online South Gippsland Dairy Expo in September, schools across Victoria were invited to participate in the competition. Prizes were offered to schools and students who completed an activities worksheet and submitted a project on a dairy career of their choice.

Drouin Secondary College was the winner of the school prize for having the highest number of students participate in the competition. Students Katrina and AJ, also from Drouin Secondary College, won the students prize for their joint PowerPoint presentation on the role of an Agricultural Journalist. Congratulations to Drouin Secondary College, Katrina, AJ and Drouin’s Agriculture teacher Julie Pilgrim-Cayzer (all pictured below).

If you would like to find out more please contact Sarah Cornell, Regional Extension Office at GippsDairy on


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