Ashley Evans is introducing young Tasmanians into the world of agriculture and they cannot get enough.
It was an agricultural science teacher that inspired 2019 Young Farmer of the Year Ashley Evans to pursue a career in agriculture; now a teacher herself, Ashley is educating a new generation of Tasmanians about opportunities across the industry.
Ashley Evans spent most of her life in an urban setting with sporadic periods of time on Tasmanian and Victorian farms. With aspirations to become a Corporate Lawyer, it wasn’t until attending Brooks High School in Tasmania’s north that Ashley acquired a passion for agriculture. The school had a farm and an inspiring agricultural science teacher who ultimately re-directed Ashley’s future.
Following graduation, she went on to complete a Bachelor of Agriculture from the University of Tasmania and later took up a position as an environmental and agricultural consultant. Based in Penguin and travelling state-wide, the position allowed Ashley to work closely with producers in the area of business and environmental sustainability.
Ashley then moved into the education space, beginning at Jordan River Learning Federation Farm before accepting a role at the Tasman District School in southern Tasmania’s township of Nubeena. The principal at Tasman District School was looking to increase agricultural programs for students.
“My goal is to engage students from a very young age,” explains Ashley. “Those who want to explore a career in agriculture have access to information on pathways and qualifications.”
Agricultural programs are now compulsory for students through to Year Six and have been so popular as an elective from Year Seven to Ten that more classes have been scheduled.
“These children are our future food purchasers and voters,” Ashley said. “We can teach them early where their food comes from and the fantastic opportunities available in Tasmania – we take for granted the diverse career options we have in the agricultural space.”
At the district school there are 235 students who have benefited from a Federal Government injection to deliver the Food and Fibre Curriculum nationwide. This provides a framework for students to value and understand primary industries – gaining insight into production of the food they consume, fibres they use and the environment in which they live.
Ashley is also heavily involved in Tasmanian agricultural shows where students compete across everything from cattle handling to poultry judging. It is through these events and field excursions that students also have an opportunity to see the industry first hand, whether it be a newly installed rotary dairy, grass-fed beef being sought out by US buyers or Tasmanian spirits bottled and exported to the world.
In her short teaching career, Ashley already has students venturing into the field; one working on her own stud beef enterprise in the Tasmanian midlands, exploring genetics and breeding, and another who is an aspiring Farm Manager. The latter had no intention of a career in agriculture before being introduced to pathways at Jordan River Learning Federation.
The tireless industry ambassador has received well-earned accolades for her commitment to agriculture, winning TP Jones & Co Young Farmer of the Year in 2019 and claiming runner-up position in 2018. Ashley was also State President of Rural Youth Tasmania up until early 2019, was Vice President for Tasmanian Women in Agriculture and works with the Discover Agriculture Program. In addition, she was a national finalist for the Rural Ambassador Award as the Tasmanian representative, currently sits on the Agfest Committee and helps run the beef sections at Brighton and Royal Hobart Shows.
The busy teacher is also mother to an 18-month-old boy, Morgan. Ashley and husband Caine have started a Murray Grey stud for their son after he received a cow for his first birthday. Tinka the cow has now given birth to a calf; the two happily grazing on the grounds of Hobart’s Government House with cattle from Tasman District School.
“I really like that we have such close connections across all levels of industry here in Tasmania,” says Ashley. “Whether you’re talking to a farmer at an event or seeking access to a politician, we can have decent conversations and enjoy a strong community feel. Those networks and that level of support is open to our children through to industry veterans and gives us an opportunity to learn from each other and work together. As a consultant and teacher, I value this greatly.”
When Ashley is not in the classroom, she’s spending quality time with her family at the beach or on the farm. Oh, and pops round to Government House to tend to the resident cows.
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