Karen in­spired by ag. di­ploma

Deniliquin Pastoral Times - - OUT & ABOUT -

It was love that led ‘city girl’ Karen Slee­man to the farm, but it was a de­sire to bet­ter un­der­stand the com­plex­i­ties of farm life that led her to TAFE NSW.

Al­most a decade ago, the former project man­ager met and mar­ried fourth gen­er­a­tion De­niliquin farmer Peter Slee­man.

Ms Slee­man was sud­denly thrust into the role of farmer’s wife.

“I wasn’t from a farm­ing back­ground but I really wanted to be in­volved in run­ning the farm,” she said.

“It’s not just a case of plant­ing a crop and hop­ing it rains.

“There’s so much to know and it’s so tech­ni­cal – things like sea­sonal fluc­tu­a­tions in wa­ter and com­mod­ity prices.”

Un­daunted, she en­rolled in a Di­ploma of Agri­cul­ture at TAFE NSW De­niliquin campus.

She said it was one of the best de­ci­sions she had ever made.

“You can pick up a lot through con­ver­sa­tions on the farm but this qual­i­fi­ca­tion al­lowed me to en­gage far more in those con­ver­sa­tions,” Ms Slee­man said.

“It meant I could have more valu­able in­put when I was speak­ing to an agron­o­mist or a tech­ni­cal ex­pert.

“The course gave me so much in­sight into how the farm should be man­aged and helped me to know when to change strat­egy to help it be­come more prof­itable.”

The mum-of-four said the hands-on as­pect of the course had helped bridge the di­vide be­tween prac­ti­cal and the­o­ret­i­cal.

“It wasn’t just in a class­room where you take notes,” Ms Slee­man said.

“There is a large field com­po­nent and you can do some of the prac­ti­cal side on your own farm.

“The course was really tai­lored to your own op­er­a­tion.”

Reg­u­lar field trips to other farm­ing op­er­a­tions were also in­valu­able, she said.

TAFE NSW of­fers more than 10 agri­cul­ture-spe­cific cour­ses in the Rive­rina, rang­ing from Cer­tifi­cate II to Di­ploma.

Former TAFE NSW stu­dent Scott Mor­row, who is now an ac­count man­ager with Land­mark Wagga, said TAFE NSW had built a for­mi­da­ble rep­u­ta­tion among em­ploy­ers in the agri-busi­ness sec­tor.

“You don’t need a uni de­gree to get a break in agribusi­ness,” Mr Mor­row said.

“TAFE has very pos­i­tive con­no­ta­tions in agri-busi­ness be­cause it helps stu­dents get back to grass­roots agri­cul­ture.”

For more in­for­ma­tion on cour­ses for Semester 1, 2018, visit www.tafensw.edu.au or call 131 601.

De­niliquin farmer Karen Slee­man says TAFE NSW en­abled her to have a more hands-on role in the fam­ily farm.

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