FUTURE farmers are getting a taste of the agricultural industry, with a Townsville school teaching city kids about life on the land.
Calvary Christian College’s Agricultural Centre started five years ago, and now 11 students who helped build the centre from the ground up are gaining formal qualifications in the rural sector.
Agricultural Coordinator Murray Hair said for the first time, the school had partnered with Queensland Agricultural Training Colleges to this year offer year 11 and 12 students the opportunity to gain their Certificate Two in Rural Operations.
“They’ll leave with certificate two qualifications and those units they’ve got competency in they can transfer to other areas, not just in the agricultural sector, but veterinary, horticulture, mechanics,” Mr Hair said.
“There's a couple of students who expressed an interest in horticulture, agronomy and those sort of things, we just want to give them the opportunity to experience something new and open their eyes that it isn't just about cattle, it's a holistic approach to agriculture.
“We need accountants, finance managers, bankers, we've got to get people out there to support the Ag industry.”
Students in years 7 and 8 undertake one term of agricultural studies, before deciding whether to pursue the subject in middle and senior school.
Mr Hair said the course was a mixture of theory and hands-on learning, which was teaching students not only about rural industries, but life skills.
“We start them with a basic introduction to agriculture, with everything from climate to where their food comes through,” he said.
“Our farmers are so important to Australia and our survival.”
Students are taught how to use power tools and equipment like whipper-snippers, and in year 9 are taught how to operate a tractor.
Mr Hair said students who continued through would learn about the dairy and beef industries, horses and the emerging goat industry.
“It's a very practical hands on course that they do here. Every second lesson is hands on here at the Ag centre, and the other lesson is theory.”
Mr Hair said with the support of Landmark, Gallaghers and other industry players, the centre, including the cattle and yard system, was now fully operational.
Year 11 students Grace Britton and Breanna Stockdale are among the cohort of students studying Certificate Two.
Grace said she had no rural background and had enjoyed learning about the agricultural industry.
“I think it's important to get people into the industry, to help out and show what you really do and to teach everyone how to be safe and what they should be doing when they get to the industry,” Grace said.
Breanna said she had undertaken agriculture since year seven and was part of the initial group to help build the centre.
“I like interacting with all the animals and actually building the Ag centre,” Breanna said.
“We were the ones who actually ended up building the majority of this Ag centre here at Calvary.
“If I was to go into the Ag industry it would help me to try to get a better job.”