CLERMONT students are taking steps towards careers in agriculture through a new high school program supported by Rio Tinto Coal Australia, operators of the Clermont and Blair Athol mines.
Clermont State High School’s Centre of Learning Excellence in a Rural Setting is one of several projects supported by Rio Tinto Coal Australia’s Clermont Region Community Development Fund.
The centre offers agriculture as a stand alone subject and provides vocation training and opportunities for students to lead into careers in agriculture.
Clermont State High School agricultural studies program manager Joshua Grant said the funding of almost $240,000 was helping to cover the first year of the program.
“We’re thankful to Clermont and Blair Athol mines for the funding, which we are using to cover necessary materials, infrastructure, and transport to set up a state-of-the-art agricultural training facility,” Mr Grant said.
“The program is a great way for students to understand the dynamics behind farming and agriculture - it allows them to recognise this as a profitable industry where they could have a rewarding career.
“We currently have 42 students from Years 8 to 10 in the program and we’re going to expand it to Year 11 students in 2012 and Year 12 students in 2013.
“We expect that all aspects of the program will be implemented by 2015.”
Rio Tinto Coal Australia’s Clermont Region general manager operations David Pretorius said it was part of the company’s approach to help build a diverse and sustainable community with a variety of businesses and industries.
“We’re pleased to support this project as it helps promote a viable and important industry in our region and provides training and education for students considering agriculture as a possible career,” Mr Pretorius said.
“This is just one of a range of projects supported by our Clermont Region Community Development Fund.
“We’re also pleased to be able to further support the school’s agricultural program through leasing land that we own near our Clermont site to the school for zero cost.
“The 220 hectares of cattle country has existing infrastructure such as cattleyards and will be an important asset to the schools cattle program.”
In partnership with Emerald Agricultural College, the school is delivering a Certificate II in Agriculture for Year 10 students, with an emphasis on beef production and cropping and a Certificate I in Rural Operations for Year 9 students.
Year 10 student Johanna Robertson has come from a farming background with her parents involved in the cattle industry as far back as she can remember.
“I grew up on a cattle station so I love agriculture because of the hands-on opportunities and you learn skills you get to use for life, like growing your own herbs to put in your cooking,” Ms Robertson said.
“I really want to follow in my parents’ footsteps and continue my agricultural studies into my senior years and then onto the Emerald Agriculture College.”
Year 9 student Julia Routh said her love for animals was her inspiration to join.
“I’m going to continue studying agriculture next year because I enjoy both the theoretical work in the classroom and the practical work outside,” Ms Routh said.
As part of the Centre of Learning Excellence in a Rural Setting, the students are involved in a range of agricultural activities including making full use of the school’s plant nursery and irrigated 150sq m market garden.
“Students have planted a variety of ornamentals such as geraniums, lillies and palms which are being sold to the general public,” Mr Grant said.
“The students bag the produce and prepare it for sale as well as set a market price based on quality and profit margins, then sell it to the school community. Our latest crop of corn netted the students with approximately 70 cobs of corn, from 30sq m of cultivation area, with a profit of about $65.”
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