Defying the Drift

Defying the Drift is a District 9780 youth program for students in Years 10 and 11 who are interested in a career in agriculture, land and livestock management, and other agricultural related industries.

With the average age of farmers in Australia and New Zealand being 55 to 59, and the world’s ever increasing population, there is an urgent need for young people in agriculture. This is what makes Defying the Drift (DtD), which has been held annually since 2010, such an innovative and inspiring program. It recognises that the world needs more and better educated farmers and is doing something about it. And it is easy to understand why DtD is considered the district’s flagship agricultural careers and leadership program.

The initiative allows students, who are sponsored by a Rotary club in the district, to participate in a two-stage program.

The first stage involves a challenging residential program, which is held on campus at either Longerenong College near Horsham or Marcus Oldham College at Waurn Ponds near Geelong. Both colleges are leading tertiary agricultural institutions.

During the residential program, participants learn and discover numerous rural careers, visit a range of rural businesses, and meet young agriculture role models. Careers include everything from hands-on farming to high-end research. There are also opportunities for students to explore many professions, trades and vocations that are needed in every community.

In stage two, the students give a presentation to their sponsor Rotary club. Presentations cover what participants learnt throughout the program and their personal reflections on possible future rural careers.

The 2022 program was held at Longerenong College, and the Rotary Club of Beaufort sponsored Tyla Armeni from Beaufort Secondary College. Tyla found the program very stimulating and busy. She spoke about her visit to Barton Station, a modern, large-scale animal and cropping agricultural farming business, which is one of Paraway Pastoral Company’s Australia-wide enterprises. Other sites visited included a horticultural farm that sells its products in Australia as well as overseas, a farm with specially made equipment and machines, and the Horsham Seed Bank.

In her presentation to the Rotary Club of Beaufort, Tyla shared information about her family’s Tarna Valley farm and thanked the club for sponsoring her.

Another attendee at the 2022 program was Madi, who was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Alfredton. Madi attended the club meeting on November 14, 2022, and thanked the members for their sponsorship. She spoke about her aspirations for a career in farming and gave a very interesting presentation about her favourite aspect of agriculture – farming merino sheep.

The Rotary Club of Ballarat sponsored four students – Katie Dexter and Daisy Sudholz from Ballarat Clarendon College and Tom Burrows and Connor Harwood from Ballarat High School. Each student was excited about their experience and the agricultural career opportunities available to them.