Dairy careers on school curriculum

20 Mar, 2016 04:00 AM
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Year nine students visit Peter GrahamÆs farm to learn about different aspects of dairyfarming.
Agriculture needs to be hands-on for kids, so they can get involved and get excited.
Year nine students visit Peter GrahamÆs farm to learn about different aspects of dairyfarming.

Peter Graham, from Rich River Farms at Codrington, Vic, is a fifth-generation dairyfarmer and proud of it. "I love agriculture, I've never wanted to do anything else," he said.

"I got involved in Cows Create Careers (CCC) because I want to encourage kids to learn about agriculture. It's all about careers and that can be anything from milking a cow, artificial insemination (AI), agronomy, to a rural bank manager."

For two years Mr Graham has worked with agriculture teacher, Alison McGeary, to help deliver CCC at Evans River K-12 School. In 2012, Ms McGeary recognised the importance of a school-based hands-on project, and a year later CCC was incorporated into the school's year nine Agriculture Technology ù Dairy Cattle unit.

At the start of the project each year, Mr Graham delivers two calves to the school and teaches the students how to care for them. The students then weigh, feed and monitor the calves, while completing classroom-based research and assessments.

"We don't have anything else like CCC that's actually linked to an industry," Ms McGeary said. "I always try to link the learning activities at school with things that happen in the real world, so I thought that CCC would be perfect ù it links to something bigger and to the community."

"The students know that the calves are on loan, so they really step-up with responsibility. They know that they've been given an opportunity with a farmer who is lending something very important, and that they're wholly responsible for handing the calves back in a good condition."

Throughout the three-week project an industry advocate also visits the students to discuss the diversity of career pathways in the industry. " CCC definitely opens the students eyes to the fact they could study agriculture at university," Ms McGeary said.

Mr Graham said dairy was a big industry and there were many opportunities.

"Younger generations should understand why a dairy technician, AI and geneticist are needed," he said. "Agriculture needs to be hands-on for kids, so they can get involved and get excited."

Since their introduction through CCC, Mr Graham and Ms McGeary have continued to build a strong working relationship. Together they have co-ordinated activities outside of CCC to further extend the students' knowledge of agriculture. Mr Graham also hosts the school's year nine students at his 250-cow farm, where they learn about pastures and rotation.

"The students develop a relationship with Peter from when they do CCC in year nine - so it's an ongoing relationship, which is great," Ms McGeary said.

Mr Graham said: "Alison and I have a good working relationship and I intend to keep it going. Going forward I hope to talk to more kids about agriculture, and even if just one student decides that they want a career in agriculture ù that's success."

For more information on Dairy Australia's CCC project, visit website www.dairyaustralia.com.au.

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