For Samantha Jarrett, the opportunity to be at the forefront of agricultural technology is a dream come true.
The Mount View High School agricultural teacher is one of 15 from across the country to be selected for the Women In Agri-tech project – a STEM-based learning initiative aimed at supporting talented girls into careers in the agri-tech sector.
Led by the University of Queensland, and researcher Dr Amy Crosby, the project drew 68 applications from around Australia and Ms Jarrett said the opportunity was too good to pass up.
“I was really excited when it came up because I’ve worked with Dr Amy Crosby before and she is amazing. So, when I found out about the opportunity I was like ‘yes, please pick me’.
“This program gives me the opportunity to take on a new challenge in my career by developing more STEM and entrepreneurship skills in my field and using these to help inspire and build interest in the next generation of female agricultural leaders.”
Ms Jarrett, who has been a teacher at Mount View High School for the past ten years, added that the project will see her attend a symposium in Brisbane in February where she will learn about entrepreneurial skills as well has having access to some of the nation’s leading female researchers and tech developers in the agricultural sector.
“We will have a foot in the door of seeing everything coming into agriculture that is tech-related over the next couple of years,” she said.
The project will also see teachers develop lesson plans which will then be shared across the country.
“We will also have a team that will support us as teachers in developing modules that we can use in our classrooms,” Ms Jarrett said.
“Then, when those modules are created, they will go live so everybody can use them, so hopefully other teachers can pick them up and use them as resources.”
With women making up just 14 per cent of management roles in the agricultural business sector, Ms Jarrett said the initiative was a great way to get more females excited about the industry.
“Agriculture is seen as a male-dominated industry by some people still. Then add in that the fact that there’s really low statistics of women in agriculture – and women in leadership in agriculture is even lower – so anything that can help to fix that is great,” she said.
“But we are lucky here because of the four people teaching agriculture, three of us are women. We don’t have that stigma, and our boys don’t think twice when they see a female farmer.”
Dr Crosby added that she hoped the project would help reverse the trend. “The next generation of young women need to be inspired and encouraged to consider a future in agri-tech.”