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Muster Dogs star mentors LEADAg participants

Clermont grazier and winner of the ABC program Muster Dogs, Frank Finger, has given the 2023 LEADAg cohort an insight into the importance of working dogs on cattle properties across Australia.

The 2023 LEADAg program saw twelve students receive hands-on, practical experiences on properties across central and western Queensland from mentors such as Mr Finger. The program is designed to begin participants’ transition into the agriculture workforce.

Mr Finger said he was pleased to be involved in a project that brought young people onto properties to experience the lifestyle.

“I believe there is no use in complaining about the shortage of people to work on the land unless you’re willing to do something about it,” he said.

“My family has always been passionate about training young people. I remember my Dad always had people coming and learning at our property ‘Hillview’, so I am glad we can continue that tradition.”

“I believe that young people just need the opportunity to see how good a life out here can be and having a working dog adds to that experience because it gives them something to care for, as well as some company if they choose to work in very isolated places.”

Mr Finger said the LEADAg program was filling a gap in agricultural education.

“Things like Muster Dogs have shone a light on the rural industries so I believe there’s lots of young people looking for a way in but there aren’t many training opportunities.”

“They need to come out to places like Clermont to meet potential employers and get a taste of what we have to offer.”

Mr Finger’s session was a highlight for the LEADAg students, many of whom had watched along as he and his beloved dog Annie won the 2021 season of Muster Dogs.

Project lead Meg Bassingthwaighte said Frank and Scott Finger are amongst many industry mentors who make LEADAg a valuable and enjoyable experience for the participants.

“What we have learned over the two years of running LEADAg is that there are no better people to be teaching the next generation of the agriculture workforce than those who already live and breathe the industry,” she said.

“Their passion and commitment to the rural industry is contagious and we get such great feedback from the students about the sessions run by mentors like Frank and Scott.”

“For that reason, we are really appreciative of the time Frank and our other incredible mentors have given to participate in LEADAg, hopefully we continue to see students returning to these regions to live and work.”

LEADAg has been developed by CHRRUP, a community-owned, central Queensland based profit-for-purpose organisation dedicated to creating thriving, connected rural communities and it’s the second year the program has been run.

A new iteration of the program will be run in 2024 to cater for participants over the age of 18. This will be run alongside the original LEADAg program which is for participants between 15 and 17 years old.


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