The Kempsey High School agricultural program is not only equipping its young participants with the skills required to work in a variety of industries, but also with the values and life skills that will allow them to meaningfully contribute to their communities.
The program offers students the opportunity to learn on the job about small scale production, feeding and caring for the animals, abattoir processes, traditional livestock parading and presenting techniques, as well as assessing the quality of meat, both on the hoof and the hook.
It also teaches them responsibility, teamwork, empathy and provides an insight into the agricultural industry, so the children can plan their careers or determine the courses they wish to study at university.
School principal Mick Eller believes wholeheartedly in the program because the industry and community can see it’s teaching valuable skills.
“The program is kicking goals, the place just drips with enthusiasm” Mr Eller said.
Mr Eller considers the program so pertinent because Kempsey is located in a prime agricultural area for beef cattle. “We’re primarily servicing beef, but if we’re not covering the other industries, we’re not doing it well,” he said.
Mr Eller believes the program is vitally important because it teaches students rural values such as cooperation, hard work, community focus, honesty, integrity and teamwork.
Mr Eller thanked members of the Macleay community for kindly contributing livestock. “The kids can’t have the experience unless they have a beast.”
Teacher Gavin Saul says he just wanted to provide a program within an area of interest that could improve the future prospects of the children.
“The program showcases these teens and what they can do for the community,” Mr Saul said.
“The kids train hard in their own time to do the best they can.”
Grade 10 student Callum Clarke, whose family farm dairy and beef cattle, appreciates the program’s relevance and practical application.
“I’m more of a hands-on person, so you can get out of the classroom and do something other than looking in a textbook,” Callum said.
Sponsor, Mark Haywood of Ray White, believes the kids are the future of the agricultural industry.
“The more we can give them, the better off they are,” Mr Haywood said.
Retired beef producers Russell and Cherie Bowen also contribute generously.
“These kids are so impressive, both in their contribution to the industry and in what they do,” Mr Bowen said.