Agriventure allows young people to see the world and pick up skills for the farm – and life – at the same time.
Story By James McEwan
When Swedish excavator driver Frederick Palsson heard he was going to Australia, he was delighted. “ When I saw I had the heavy machinery job I knew I hit the jackpot, “ he says, with a trademark wide grin. “On the Agriventure form I was given the choice of three jobs in five different countries but I only ticked the boxes for Australia and heavy machinery.”
For fellow trainee Cecile Borello, from France, a trip to Australia fulfilled a need to complete her formal education, and to work in broad-acre farming on a larger scale than her family grain and seed operation near Orleans in central France
Both Cecile and Frederick came to Australia through the Agriventure organization, which offers an exchange program for 18–30-year-olds to live and work in agriculture here and for young Australians to do the same in Canada, the US, Europe, the UK, New Zealand and Japan.
Known as ‘trainees’ they spend from seven to nine months living and working with their host families, in this case Anne and Andrew Bullard of “Bengerang” near Moree in western New South Wales.
“The trainees we have here are adventurous young people ready to learn,” Anne says. “They are decent young people – for Andrew and I it’s like having family around. Our first trainee came to us in 1993; she was Danish, a little treasure and we still keep in touch, now it’s easier with email.”
Agriventure’s Vivienne Wettenhall says trainees have a real adventure. “For some it is a gap year trip before university and for others it’s a chance to round off their studies in a totally different country where they don’t speak the language,” she says. “Agriculture colleges such as Marcus Oldham in Victoria encourage their students to use their Agriventure experience as the practical component for their course. It gives young people enormous confidence and can be a stepping – stone to their future careers. They make friendships and contacts that will last a lifetime. One of our new trainees currently has a Swedish father and a Canadian mother who met and married through Agriventure in Australia 25 years ago.”
Anne and Andrew started hosting trainees at their Gunnedah property and continued when they moved to their current property in 1999. Some do farm work and others do governess work. Their daughter Shelley has been on exchange to Canada and had a great experience there. “If we only have a few trainees we have them stay in the house, or if they like, we have a separate house on the property where they can be independent,” Anne says. “One French trainee even started his own vegetable garden! We all have a lot of fun; Andrew and I recently took the trainees down to sail on Sydney Harbour.”
This story excerpt is from Issue #55
Outback Magazine: Oct/Nov 2007