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Educating Educators in Agriculture

​Ian Shepherdson explains the cane cycle
​A number of interested Home Hill State High School staff were treated to a “farm tour” on Friday 8 May. This year, Home Hill High became an Agribusiness Gateway School, introducing a range of curriculum changes that relate to agriculture and impress upon the younger generation the importance of food production and highlight the huge number of career opportunities available.

The tour was an initiative of the Bowen Gumlu Grower’s Regional Workforce Development Officer, Bianca Fullarton and supported by Rabobank.  The tour aimed to show educators the endless opportunities available to their students in relation to agriculture.

The first stop was Chapman’s Rocky Ponds Produce shed near Gumlu. The group was wowed by the complex technological innovations used in the processing shed. The Chapman family, led by father Des Chapman, have embraced an array of impressive new technologies to improve their ecological impact and financial bottom line. The teachers were most impressed by the computer driven watering system that allows pumps to be monitored (and turned on or off) from anywhere in the world. Des outlined the vast number of career paths that can be directly or indirectly involved in the agricultural industry, ranging from electricians, agronomists, financiers, market analysts and farm operators. The sheer size of this operation gave many teachers renewed inspiration, with numerous ideas on how to incorporate it into the curriculum being considered.

The group then travelled to Ian Shepherdson’s cane farm. Many of the new teachers now have a much clearer understanding of the cane cycle and saw firsthand a newly planted cane crop. They were also briefed by Tiffany Hunt from Burdekin Productivity Services who succinctly and passionately talked about what BPS does and her own journey into the agribusiness sector.

Jayson Dowie from Farmacist explained the importance of science and innovation in farming and how it assists in improving environment impact and increasing yield. Jason brought along his unmanned drone which was a hit with the whole crowd.

The Shepherdsons put on a spectacular wood-fired pizza extravaganza after the official duties were done. These delicious treats, accompanied by some liquid refreshments, were generously funded by Rabobank and were much appreciated by the Home Hill SHS staff.

The entire group was very pleased with the tour and came away with new, invigorated ideas to implement into the classrooms. They all look forward to the opportunity to be involved in a follow-up tour at a later date that will encompass more of the diverse agricultural industry.

“I am delighted that we have such great partnerships with the agricultural industry here. We strongly believe our students and staff need to engage with this most important industry which our community is built around”, said Principal Steven Miskin.

Many thanks to Bianca from Bowen Gumlu Growers for organising the tour and to Sue Malaponte and Peter Ciranni from Rabobank for assisting her. Thanks also to Des Chapman and the Rocky Ponds Produce crew, and to the Shepherdsons for allowing us to explore your industries and your hospitality.