Hannah Lewis has a Masters of Agricultural Science, Bachelor of Arts and Commerce and years of experience working in the agricultural industry. However, when she moved to Tasmania to work on a farm, she realised what she needed to take her career to the next level: a Certificate III in Agriculture from TasTAFE.
Hannah was exposed to the world of farming from a young age, spending plenty of time on her grandparents’ farm. Growing up she admits she was naïve to farming as a business – she saw it as a place her grandparents lived, not as a possible career pathway.
After finishing school, Hannah wasn’t sure what she wanted to do next. She studied commerce at university and at the end of her degree wasn’t any clearer on what she wanted to do for a career. A friend let her know that the Victorian Farmers Federation were looking for someone to fill a project role and there’s been no looking back for Hannah since.
“I really loved working in the industry, but I was thinking I really want to learn more about food systems and global food security, responsible food production. I’d realised that’s what I’m passionate about. So I enrolled back into university in a Masters of Agricultural Sciences.” Hannah said.
At the completion of her Masters, Hannah was offered an opportunity to move to the north-west coast of Tasmania and work on a farm.
Having held business management roles in her agricultural career up to this point, Hannah soon realised she would need some help to learn how to get by on the farm. While her Masters degree was a fantastic experience, it lacked a practical component.
“For the first time I was working on a tractor. I hadn’t done any irrigation, I hadn’t picked up a chainsaw. I hadn’t driven a forklift. Once I heard of the Certificate III at TasTAFE, I knew it was something I needed to do.”
Hannah said by doing a Certificate III with TasTAFE, she was able to learn the skills required without the pressure of doing it on the job.
“It was fantastic because I was able to learn in a failsafe environment. Obviously, farms can be incredibly high-risk workplaces, so to be able to learn from someone who can coach you through that in a safe way was really valuable.”
Hannah was a bit hesitant to learn some of the tricks of the trade, but was quickly made to feel confident and supported in her learning.
“I turned up and thought there’s no way I’ll ever feel comfortable using a chainsaw. Then after two days I thought ‘this is fantastic’ and I went out and bought a chainsaw. It’s about having the confidence to know that you’re going to use it safely and you’re going to maintain it.
I’ve also been taught to know when there’s a problem and when to seek help. It is great to learn in that environment compared to being taught by family or colleague where they might do things because that’s the way they’ve always done it.”
“It was a really great learning environment and has given me more confidence to work on the farm now.”
More than anything though, Hannah said it was the teachers at TasTAFE which made her experience so valuable.
“Being able to pick up the phone and have a really practical relationship with the people who are teaching you the skills. I was able to say to them “I’m just not quite getting this “or “Hey I’m back in the workplace and I don’t know how this applies or how you would do this”. They could answer how it works in your context, and that’s something you don’t get at university either.”
“I think the support you get has been unlike anything else in my education.”
Article courtesy of TasTAFE