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On the land and online

17 August 2017
Creating a space for agriculture online has bridged the gap between rural and urban communities

There’s movement at the station. Guy Coleman is part of a wave of agriculture graduates finding opportunities to transform the industry with new perspectives and technologies. He’s using and creating online resources that provide a platform for education and discussion.

Guy Coleman

Guy Coleman believes in technology. He also believes in bringing city and country people together.

It was in Poland in 2015 that Guy Coleman (BEnvSys(Hons) ’17) had an epiphany of sorts. He had left Australia after completing a Bachelor of Science and was travelling in Europe before returning to Australia to study medicine. His travelling companion asked him why he chose medicine and he struggled to answer.

“My heart was in agriculture but I had thought the ‘right’ thing to do was medicine,” Coleman says. “Yet in that moment I knew I was going to decline doing a medical degree.”

While giving up a career in medicine for a career in agriculture puzzled many, Coleman’s childhood spent between Perth and the family farm in Esperance offers insight into his decision: “I love the farm. Dad works 1000 hectares of grain and he would teach me about farming techniques.”

Fast-forward two years from that conversation in Poland, and Guy Coleman has completed his honours year at the University of Sydney. His thesis explores the viability of using drones in agriculture, reflecting his interest in the nexus between technology and agriculture. But he also has another vision: to bridge the gap between urban and rural communities.

To do this, he created a website, AgriEducate, which provides information on agriculture, to foster understanding between urban Australians and farmers. “There are many farmers asking questions of other farmers on Twitter and I thought, why not do the same for people from the city who have questions.”

The AgriEducate site (agrieducate.com.au) covers topics as diverse as food labelling, youth in agriculture and the growing gap between food consumption and production. It has been viewed by 20,000 people.

Coleman’s natural enthusiasm has earned him five academic industry awards and he was a finalist in both the 2017 WA Young Achiever Awards Agriculture Award and the WA Rhodes Scholarship, for which his application focused on agricultural policy. He is also a strong advocate for agriculture as a career choice.

“It isn’t only about studying to be a farmer,” he says. “It’s also about studying to be an engineer, an economist or a professor. There are so many opportunities.”


Written by Dr Kerry Little
Photography by Matthew Vasilescu

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