Farms throughout the region have offered paid work to high school students during the school holidays in a bid to inspire them to follow a career in agriculture.
The School Holiday Job Program has seen 21 students deployed across six farms to learn first hand what career options are available in the sector.
Dangleberry Farms owner Marcus Ashley was able to take on five students on his Calavos strawberry farm.
“I welcome anyone interested in pursuing careers in agriculture to come and spend some time on the farm,” Marcus said.
“I'll spend time with them, if they want [I can] show them different aspects of the farm, especially different areas where they can have careers, if they want to take it further.
“These guys want to earn some pocket money … there's no better way to start learning how strawberry farm works, by starting picking.”
Marcus has a background in agricultural science and irrigation making him well placed to mentor the young students in a raft of career opportunities.
“I made a career out of studying horticulture and I'd like to foster anyone else's interest in that to do the same.
“I think we need a lot more young people coming through studying agriculture and horticulture.”
Bundaberg North State High School Year 11 student Hamish Derrick said it was a great opportunity to explore an agriculture career that helped him to keep busy and earn cash in the holidays.
“I like working here because it's something I'm interested in,” Hamish said.
“I'm more into the mechanics working on either the big machinery or the loading vehicles and all that planning.”
Abigail Marsman, who is in Year 9 at Bundaberg Christian College, jumped at the opportunity to join the program.
“Our school only does the farm animal side of things and I want to look at the horticulture part of things,” Abigail said.
She’s interested in a career in agriculture because it involves “getting dirty and being out in the sun”.
She said she was looking forward to learning from Marcus who would teach the students more about irrigation, fertilisation and growing fruit and vegetables.
BFVG industry services officer Kylie Jackson said she was proud of the way the students had delved into the world of farming and applied themselves to a possible agriculture career.
“We've got some students out on a citrus orchard in Wallaville, we've got strawberry farms where we are today, blueberry, potatoes, and also macadamia placements,” Kylie said.
“We are putting them into entry level positions …however some of the employers are actually taking on a mentoring type role with the students and offering them opportunities to learn different areas of the industry, such as irrigation.”