Monday, September 28, 2020

Cows create careers

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GORGEOUS baby calves are helping to inspire students from Port Macquarie High School in New South Wales to pursue a career in Australia’s dairy industry.

As part of their annual Cows Create Careers farm module project, agriculture students learn the ins-and-outs of the dairy industry by rearing two three-week-old calves at school.

Agriculture teacher Marion Napier says the program is designed to give students a better awareness of what the dairy industry has to offer.

“Most of us don’t know how diverse the career options are, there are numerous ways to be a part of the dairy industry without actually being a dairy farmer,” she tells Australian Teacher Magazine.

Aside from their rearing duties, students have embraced the theoretical side of the program, completing the various assignments and science-based activities with obvious enthusiasm.

“It’s much more tangible once you gets that hands on experience, they get very attached to their calves and don’t like to see them go,” Napier says.

“The students really love it and it gives them a little taste for what it’s like to actually look after calves on a farm, and that helps reinforce all the theory work as well.”

The diversity of subjects offered by the program — which range from agri-business to finance — gives students the chance to develop new skills in technology, communication and teamwork.

“They need to do quite a bit of research to enable them to do all the activities … they need to learn the scientific basis behind it all,” Napier explains.

“Because it’s such a diverse competition they learn a lot of new skills, a lot of computer skills, a lot of communication skills, plus they have the hands-on experience, but the bottom line is to gain a lot of industry knowledge.”

Testament to the program’s success was the selection of six of its students by Dairy Australia to represent NSW in the Moo’in Transfer project. The students had to design an advertisement to convince consumers that dairy is an essential part of one’s diet.

As part of the competition they got to show off their passion and knowledge for the industry in front of a panel of judges and other delegates at the Australian Dairy Conference in Victoria.

“It was a big challenge for them to stand up in front of an adult audience; it was an amazing opportunity…” Napier says.

“The kids did a great job, they were all so excited to be able to do this, so they put in a lot of effort.”

So what can the school’s future Year 11 students expect? According to Napier, the project is here to stay.

“We’ll continue doing it while we possibly can … they discover ways to be make it more of a challenge to students, so there’s new elements each year.”

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