Craig Pearce vividly remembers the feeling of sitting on a John Deere tractor as a small child as it rumbled through the rolling paddocks of his family's Bega Valley dairy farm.
But despite spending his entire life on the family farm, the fourth generation dairy farmer has turned to TAFE NSW Bega to build on his practical skills and knowledge of the industry.
Mr Pearce, 22, has completed a Certificate II, III and IV in Agriculture (Dairy) through TAFE NSW to complement his lived experience working the 246hectare property, located between Bega and Quaama.
"My dad obviously knows a lot about dairy farming but there's a new generation coming through and new ways of doing things, so it was great to learn that at TAFE NSW," Mr Pearce said.
"I learned things like the science of livestock feeding, and what proteins are in foods so the cow is getting the right nutrition. It was a really good overall experience and my teachers had great knowledge of the industry."
The Pearces' family farm supplies milk for Bega Cheese. Milk production makes up more than 65 per cent of total agricultural value in the Bega Valley, one of the nation's most iconic dairy regions.
Mr Pearce was honoured recently with a $1000 Further Education Scholarship Award from Bega Valley Shire Council to support his studies.
And he remained philosophical about the industry's well-documented struggle with volatile farmgate milk prices.
"It's been tough and you can feel it every day on the farm, but there are people far worse off, especially after the bushfires," Mr Pearce said.
"It's pretty good at the moment and we just need to keep encouraging people to buy Australian cheese and milk."
TAFE NSW agriculture teacher Stuart Yeatman, who has been involved in the cattle industry for almost 40 years, said the Certificate III in Agriculture (Dairy) was being offered at TAFE NSW Bega for semester two this year and was an entry level course aimed at those already working in the industry.
"It's all about giving students the hands-on, practical skills to really thrive in their jobs," Mr Yeatman said.
"There's a strong focus on employability skills and we have units on things like quad bikes, chemical application, livestock handling and feeding, coordinating milking operations, and basic fencing.
"Dairy is such a critical part of Bega's economy and history, and this course is all about fostering the industry's future workforce."
To learn more about studying agriculture at TAFE NSW Bega, call 13 16 01 or visit www.tafensw.edu.au.