The Local Buying Foundation has proudly providing funding towards the CHRRUP (Central Highlands Regional Resources Use Planning) LEADAg program, a pioneering initiative aimed at cultivating the next generation of agricultural professionals. This collaboration has proven to be instrumental in providing young students with hands-on experience and insight into the multifaceted world of agriculture, opening doors to potential career paths and enriching local communities.

Due to the immense success of LEADAg in 2023, the Local Buying Foundation is proud to continue it’s support of this incredible initiative into 2024. The 2024 program has expanded to LEADAg Youth (15-17yrs) and LEADAg Plus (18+yrs).

LEADAg 2023 

The 2023 LEADAg program yielded impressive outcomes, with students aged 15-17 gaining exposure to a wide range of agricultural activities, covering a broad spectrum of agricultural processes and providing essential training, including accredited Rural First Aid and CPR, irrigation techniques, and plant and insect biology workshops. This experience has allowed participants to better identify and pursue careers of interest within the agriculture sector.

Students explored advanced cropping methods, “Swarm” farming, and the application of novel technologies in agriculture. They also learned about small motors maintenance, livestock handling (including sheep, goats, cattle, and horses), and working with dogs on cattle. Additionally, the program included practical skills such as sheep shearing, wool grading, and constructing electric and barb fencing. Biosecurity, pasture management, and tours of horticulture operations, feedlots, sale yards, and natural water supplies were also integral components of the curriculum. Furthermore, the program addressed mental and physical health maintenance in remote locations.

The program has significantly benefited both students and the agricultural community. The twelve selected students, chosen from 136 applicants, gained invaluable insights into various agricultural employment opportunities. By working closely with over 15 hosts and mentors, they not only acquired practical skills but also formed meaningful connections that could lead to future employment.

Participants expressed enthusiasm about the career prospects in agriculture after completing the program. One student noted, “I feel even more excited to get involved in the ag industry when I finish school, now that I have completed LEADAg. I thought I had a pretty good idea of what career I wanted to pursue, but I have learned about many more opportunities and pathways I could take. The mentors throughout the three weeks were all willing to offer us further job opportunities and guidance in their areas of expertise, which I found to be very helpful and considerate.”

Another participant said: “I learned not only about agriculture, but also about the importance of community and networks. I’m from Brisbane and have barely been past Chinchilla, which is about as far west as I had ever been before the course. The course taught me to have a deeper appreciation for the agricultural industry and it portrayed how far Australia has come not just domestically but internationally as well. LEADAg was an amazing experience, and I couldn’t recommend it enough.”

Producers and mentors involved in the program also found immense value in mentoring young students and potentially identifying future employees. The interaction allowed them to share their passion for agriculture and foster a network of aspiring professionals.

One mentor commented, “The program provides students with the opportunity to develop their leadership, communication and teamwork skills. Through their participation in LEADAg, students learn how to work effectively with others to achieve common goals. In addition to benefiting students, the LEADAg program also benefits agribusinesses by connecting a pipeline of talented and motivated students who are interested in careers in agriculture.”

The program was structured into three one-week blocks throughout the year, each focusing on different aspects of agriculture. The first week in Emerald introduced students to farm safety, first aid, irrigated cropping management, and small motors. They toured the Fairbairn Dam and Costa farm, gaining practical insights into these operations.

In Longreach, the second block centered on small animal production, including sheep mustering and woolshed operations. Students also explored AgTech, biosecurity, horsemanship, and rural mental health and wellbeing.
The final week in Clermont and Emerald provided hands-on experience with large livestock production, working dogs, fencing, and pasture management. Tours of the Emerald Saleyards and Van Dyke Feedlot were highlights of this segment.

LEADAg 2024 

The success of the 2023 LEADAg program has paved the way for its expansion in 2024. With the LEADAg Youth (ages 15-17) program gearing up for 2024, the program will now also include participants over the age of 18, under the new banner of LEADAg Plus. This extension, developed through RESQ+ funding in 2024, aims to attract more individuals to the agricultural sector, providing them with the skills and connections necessary for a successful career. LEADAg Plus will offer similar training modules as its predecessor, ensuring that participants gain comprehensive exposure to agricultural practices and develop strong networks within the industry.

The continued support from partners like the Local Buying Foundation and other community stakeholders is crucial in sustaining and expanding this valuable program.

Tracey Cuttriss-Smith, C-Res CEO, commented: “By providing part-funding for the LEADAg program, the LBF recognised the opportunity to support the development of the next generation of regional leaders. This program engages talented young people, giving them access to expertise and resources which is crucial for the sector’s prosperity. It aligns perfectly with our vision of building sustainable businesses communities – within agriculture, as well as other sectors, making it a natural fit for support from the LBF. We are excited to see the growth of this pivotal program now into another year, and to continue to support its impact on the agriculture sector.”

More information about LEADAg Youth (ages 15-17) and LEADAg Plus (ages 18+) can be found here: