A special grant has given the All About Alpacas Project a definite boost.
In the vast expanse of Australia’s agricultural landscape, growth and innovation are the bedrock of a sustainable future.
The AgriFutures Australia Emerging Industries Business Innovation Grant has provided a beacon of opportunity for budding industries hoping to foster education, awareness and career opportunities.
Among the many constructive ventures kindled by this grant is the All About Alpacas Project — an initiative that not only showcases the potential of emerging industries, but also shapes the choices of aspiring young minds in the field of agriculture.
At its core, the grant is a catalyst for change.
Conceived with the aim of tackling pivotal challenges obstructing the growth of Australia’s new and emerging agricultural industries, this grant empowers initiatives that bring fresh perspectives and solutions.
All About Alpacas spokesperson Katy Armson-Graham said the support and guidance the grant provided was phenomenal.
“There is no way we could have ever made the project half of what it is today without the assistance of the grant and the network of support they provided,” Katy said.
The Australian Alpaca Association has been running a dedicated Alpaca Youth Education program since the 1990s, but it now requires updated resources to increase engagement with schools.
Currently available online within the Primezone primary industries lesson plans and resources, the All About Alpacas initiative offers a comprehensive range of resources tailored to Australian schools, catering to both those without existing agricultural plots and those with established agriculture programs.
Designed as a self-contained resource, it introduces students to the world of farming through the lens of alpacas, an innovative approach.
The initiative provides videos spotlighting various careers within the alpaca industry, offering valuable insights into potential pathways, and includes interactive calendars that elucidate the seasonal management practices involved in alpaca care, covering tasks like shearing and drenching.
Katy hopes the project will help bring the alpaca industry into alignment with other well-established industries such as sheep and cattle.
“Because alpacas were only introduced into the country very recently, I think we’re still perceived as a little bit different,” Katy said.
“By using knowledge from the Merino sheep industry and even angoras and industries like that, the alpaca industry has changed and developed so much in such a short time frame. I hope that these resources can contribute to that growth to make alpaca farming more accepted and accessible.”
A key element of bringing the project to life was a partnership instigated by AgriFutures Australia with the Primary Industries Education Foundation Australia.
PIEFA provided the expert curriculum writing, the graphic design, and assisted with the development of materials for the All About Alpacas website.
“Through the Business Innovation Grant, we were put in touch with PIEFA whose guidance and expertise were absolutely instrumental in bringing the project to life,” Katy said.
“Not only that, but the engagement with schools and the alignment with the Australian Curriculum through the efforts of PIEFA have provided a structured and credible framework for educators.”
As a passionate educator of alpacas, Katy firmly believes in the significant potential the program holds for Australian classrooms.
She envisions a future where more children develop an affection for alpacas through this initiative.
“I have actually handled fleeces that date back to some of the earliest alpacas that were brought into the country which is just so incredible, and the industry is full of really diverse people who all have unique ideas and ways of doing things, which is I think is an exciting point of difference for young people entering the industry,” Katy said.
By bridging the gap between education and practical experience, All About Alpacas not only introduces students to farming but also paves the way for unconventional yet essential agricultural learning.
If you or someone you know has a fresh perspective or solution for an emerging agricultural industry, the Emerging Industries Business Innovation Grant Guidelines will outline how and where AgriFutures can help bring this idea to life.