FOUR farmers from the Tamworth region will graduate from agriculture courses after knuckling down to study over the past two years.
Willow Tree’s Craig Carter, Attunga’s Sue Webb, Rhonda Kelson from Kelvin and Fiona Kirby from Curlewis were presented with their certificates in a ceremony at West Tamworth League Club on Thursday.
The graduates studied through online program RuralBiz, which brings accredited training courses to farmers and other rural people, no matter where they live.
The courses, which can take up to two years depending on each student’s study load, provide farmers with useful knowledge which can be put into practice on farm.
Ms Kelson studied an advanced diploma of agribusiness management, while Mr Carter, Mrs Webb and Ms Kirby each received a diploma of agriculture.
“They studied the course online, but some had recognition for prior learning, so they were assessed on farm,” RuralBiz Training project officer Erin Mannix said.
The focus was on helping the farmers develop their own businesses.
“Farmers don’t usually have a piece of paper showing their qualifications, so it’s good for them to have that,” Miss Mannix said.
“We also have connections with Charles Sturt University, so courses studied can
count towards credit for a bachelor of agribusiness management.”
Mrs Webb, who owns and operates a small cattle stud with her husband Richard, completed her diploma in 12 months.
The couple has owned Machamvale Poll Herefords for the past six years, first at Gloucester then at Attunga, where the couple relocated to in 2011.
Mrs Webb’s study started with a farm mapping unit and grew from there.
“We’d both been graziers before. I was also a teacher-librarian and Richard was a stock and station agent for many years,” Mrs Webb said.
“I saw this as an opportunity to understand the farm, its soil, its potential and how we should manage it.”
The Webbs produce a small number of stud bulls each year, as well as commercial cattle sold through saleyards.
“It was relevant to what was happening on the farm,” Mrs Webb said.
“You’re never too old to learn and know what’s happening in the world.
“It gave us useful information on what’s happening in agriculture.”
More than 85 students graduated from the RuralBiz Training courses in ceremonies across NSW.
The Tamworth ceremony included talks by two guest speakers – RuralBiz director Kathy Sims, who spoke about opportunities and pathways for students, and member for New England Tony Windsor, who emphasised the importance of training and education for farmers.
Four graduates will receive their certificates in Inverell on April 19.
Nullamanna farmer Jim Roussos and Jacqui Breneger from Bingara have completed the diploma of agriculture.
Lucy Faithfull from Glen Innes will receive the advanced diploma of agriculture and Rhonda King from Bingara will receive an advanced diploma of agribusiness management.