This paper explores relationship between rural students knowledge of STEM in rural careers, their aspirations towards STEM careers, subject choices and university admission. Rural students often have less access to STEM subjects in senior secondary high school, a situation that in turn limits their ability to gain entry to university study. In this paper I report on a yearlong project exploring this relationship. Specifically the paper draws upon survey data, interviews and focus group data to outline the understandings of STEM subjects held by rural students, parents, community members and rural industries. The results also outline the relationship between students' understanding of the role of STEM subjects in rural careers, their aspirations for rural STEM careers, and how this influences senior school subject selection, which in turn impacts upon subsequent university study. Through understanding the needs of the rural sector related to STEM & innovation, and students' perceptions of rural industry, we are able to sketch the beginning of a strategy for highlighting the relevance of STEM to rural careers and innovation that can be used to encourage students to take relevant STEM subjects in their senior studies and subsequently university.