Ryan on the road to Canada

Lauren CelenzaCountryman

Going from the red dirt of a small Wheatbelt town to the snow-covered fields of Canada may be a shock to the system, but it is one Ryan Burro believes will be well worth it.

The Southern Cross farmer is just one of eighteen young people from across Australia taking part in an ‘agriventure’ of a lifetime with the International Agricultural Exchange Association.

Arriving in Canada this week, Ryan will spend nine months on a 3000 acre cattle and cropping farm in Meota, Saskatchewan.

“It’s like a working holiday,” he said.

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Ryan, 25, has worked at an iron-ore mine 40km north of Southern Cross for the past two years, but said he wanted to travel before settling down on the family farm.

“I want to learn different farming techniques and a different culture,” said Ryan, a graduate of WA College of Agriculture, Cunderdin. “The opportunity presented itself this year through AgriVenture Australia and I thought, ‘I’m not getting any younger, so I better do it now’.”

Ryan will experience a full Canadian farming season, starting by feeding cattle for several months until seeding crops in May, then harvest. “They have many similar farming techniques, but there are lots of things I will learn,” he said.

“I have never been out of Australia; I’m expecting it to be cold. I am looking forward to the activities AgriVenture organises for us, like going to the Calgary Stampede.”

Ryan was not the only one to take up the opportunity of international travel.

Fresh out of St Brigid’s College in Perth, Bridgetown’s Cordelia Parsons jumped at the chance to work on a Canadian farm.

In addition, Amelia Stockdale from Albany, Sarah Halleen and Duggie Brownlie, both from Leinster, will also travel to Canada to live and work on ranches and broadacre farms.

AgriVenture, a rural exchange program for those aged 18–30, helps Australians to develop their skills in agriculture through travel to countries including Canada, Denmark, UK, Norway, Sweden and Asia.

Participants stay with an approved host family and they are often provided with a car and other benefits.

On weekends, trainees can travel around the country and catch up with locals or other trainees.

Canadian trainee Jessica Hedges, who is on exchange in Australia, said the program was a wonderful way to learn new skills. “We have made life-long friends, and know we can always visit our international families in the future,” she said.

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