Dairy pen pals get stamp of approval

12 Mar, 2018 10:16 AM
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Luke and Elisha Stock are keen supporters of the Student Pen Pal program.
That rural city divide has grown, certainly during my lifetime...
Luke and Elisha Stock are keen supporters of the Student Pen Pal program.

The digital generation will use pen and paper to build connections between urban and farming communities.

Dairy Australia's Student Pen Pal program will see children across Australia writing letters to each other to help connect country and city kids and paint a more accurate picture of life on a dairy farm.

The program will be launched on Dairy Australia's education platform, Discover Dairy, in July 2018 ready for primary schools across Australia to put pen to paper in Term 3.

The Pen Pal program will help teachers and schools develop their 'Farm to Plate' curriculum and will encourage them to use dairy as an example of how quality Australian food is produced.

Queensland dairy farmer Luke Stock is keen for his children to become involved in the program, which he believes can reconnect people who have lost touch with Australia's agriculture sector.

"That rural city divide has grown, certainly during my lifetime, so I think that the Pen Pal program between rural and city schools will be very good," he said.

"I think back even to my father's generation when everybody had that rural connection.

"They had an uncle or cousins on the land, but we have lost that to some degree."

With wife Bek and children Elisha, 12, Sarah, 9, Chloe, 6 and Hayden, 3, Luke runs a 69-hectare farm at Glenore Grove in the Lockyer Valley, west of Brisbane.

He said he was looking forward to his children immersing themselves in the fourth-generation family farm.

"Particularly the oldest girl, Elisha, will have a bit to do with the program, sharing her experiences of growing up on a farm," he said.

The Stock family will feature in a series of documentary-style videos showcasing life on a dairy farm.

Schools participating in the Pen Pal program will use the videos to inspire classroom learning and their letter writing.

With so much online misinformation about the dairy industry, Mr Stock said it was important that farming families were able to tell their stories directly to those who had little or no interaction with the agriculture sector.

He said he thought people would be pleasantly surprised to see how well dairy cows were treated and how much care went into looking after them.

"I won't say we care for our animals better than we care for ourselves, but they have their own nutritionist which means their diet is probably balanced better than ours," Mr Stock said.

Dairy Australia's School Communications Coordinator Emma Rundle said she was excited to see primary schools support this program to bridge the gap between urban and rural regions and increase children's understanding of the Australian dairy industry.

"The Australian Curriculum has an increased focus on educating children about Food and Fibre production and the Student Pen Pal program will help bring the dairy industry to life in classrooms," she said.

For more information about the Student Pen Pal program visit www.dairy.edu.au/discoverdairy

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