Karen inspired by ag. diploma
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.