ESTHER Glasgow is not afraid to get her hands dirty and get stuck into farming.
While nothing substitutes for practical experience, Esther is an advocate for the training provided by Rural Skills Industries Training at Hamilton.
The 23-year-old grew up on her parents' property, Claremont, near Hawkesdale, and always wanted to be a farmer.
With older brother James, who is studying at Marcus Oldham College, the pair started their Poll Dorset stud, Estjam, in 1998.
This year they will hold their first on-property sale.
"We will sell 40 rams," she said.
"It is an important way to go if we're going to grow the stud's profile and our client base."
Esther has completed an on-farm traineeship through RIST and last year won the Trainee of the Year with the Victorian Farmers Federation.
She has now taken on a job as trainee co-ordinator with RIST.
Its staff will be on-hand at Sheepvention this year to talk to prospective students about the many programs on offer.
Esther said the RIST programs gave her an excellent, practical training ground and improved her skills.
"The kids that do RIST programs are doing it by choice, they want to be there, and so they get a lot out of it," she said.
"Plus I now have friends from all across the Western District area through it.
"We bounce ideas off each other and discuss what works on their farm."
Esther said off-farm training and learning from people other than parents was important.
And with agriculture still a male-dominated industry, building her knowledge gave her more confidence.
"RIST's opened my eyes to the many opportunities in agriculture," she said.
"RIST now has 200 trainees and its popularity continues to grow.
"I say to a lot of my friends in town if they're having trouble getting a job they should look to agriculture as there's plenty of opportunities."
Landowners - such as Harry Youngman, Grassdale - are also strong advocates for RIST.
Before sourcing employees through RIST it was a case of pot luck, which "yielded no better than a 50 per cent strike rate", he said.
"We've been involved with RIST for 12 years and now have three permanently employed staff.
"They're all local kids who've come from families whose previous generations we've employed.
"We're very proud of that fact.
"We have a duty to the industry to educate new entrants and for our investment in them we'd like to keep them employed as long as the job is interesting."
Harry said the program's structure allowed participants to mix their learning with practical applications.
"The curriculum gives them all of the latest thinking on enterprise management," he said.
"My appraisal is it's a very relevant, well-structured program that gives participants important knowledge that's often overlooked in the working environment."
- For details, visit www.rist.com.au