THE 24-year-old manager of a merino farm in Sidonia, near Kyneton, says adhering to the traditional training system of jackarooing helps foster a passion for the industry and the skills to make a career out of it.
Dan Korff has been working at the farm for the past three years, after spending four years working as a jackaroo in New South Wales while studying for his Bachelor of Agricultural Business Management.
At the farm, he works alongside a Jillaroo, who is also completing her agriculture degree, a jackaroo, and another man who has been promoted to the role of overseer after being a jackaroo last year.
Mr Korff said their workplace was based on the traditional jackaroo system, which is similar to an apprenticeship.
He said it was a system that was dying out on the smaller farms, as people looked to hire people with prior experience in the industry.
“Not many places dedicate themselves to offering it. Mainly now it’s only the larger holdings in NSW but there’s still a few around,” he said.
“A lot of people want to hire people that are experienced first but I’d rather someone with a good attitude who is willing to learn.”
Mr Korff’s father was a stock and station agent, but he said he discovered a passion for working the land after finishing high school.
“My real love for it was captured when I left school and went jackarooing for four years,” he said.
He said while completing his degree was an important step for him, it was equally as vital to get on-the-job experience.
“Many people have a degree but may not have experience, which is why I encourage people to do this,” he said. “We encourage people to get practical experience on the farm and then also further their business intelligence by doing a degree and getting the science behind the practical components of it.”
Mr Korff said getting into an agricultural career could be difficult for young people, especially if they were not born into a farming family.
“It’s a challenge in the fact in that it can take a lot longer in the ag industry to get where you may want to be,” he said.
“It can be a slow process, but the dedicated ones will push through and do the hard yards.”
He said it was important for the agricultural industry to promote the sort of careers young people can have.
He is currently working on a project with the Future Farmers Network to create a career mapping program.
“It aims to show defined lines of where people can go within the industry, so its something visual in place for people to be able to see where they want to end up and the paths they want to pursue to get there.
“But in agriculture there’s not a set path; there are lots of exciting things you can do.”
Mr Korff has also recently been selected to be on the steering committee of the National Merino Challenge in its first year.
The initiative aims to encourage young people to participate in the merino industry by teaching senior secondary and tertiary students the basics of sheep and fleece assessment in a two-day session.
He said he was selected for the steering committee because of his commitment to fostering the next generation of Jackaroos.
“I’m keen on nurturing our young ones,” he said.