Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champion Melissa Henry visits St. Michael’s Catholic Primary School

Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champion Melissa Henry visited St. Michael’s Catholic Primary School and Crestwood High School in Baulkham Hills last term to present the fresh young face of farming to students

The Young Farming Champions initiative pairs students participating in the Archibull Prize school program with a young farmer who comes to the school and talks to the students and shares their farming experiences.

The Young Farming Champions demonstrate passion for their industry while providing a real life example to young people who may have never considered a career in agriculture. Because they are young they can relate to students and are adept at breaking down stereotypes of farming and agricultural careers to introduce the dynamic, innovative and high-tech industry in which we all operate.

Melissa is our Sheep Meat /Wool Specialist and is proudly supported by Australian Wool Innovation and Meat and Livestock Australia.

Here is what happened in Melissa’s words ( I am confident  you
will agree it’s pretty obvious Melissa enjoyed presenting the sheep industry to
the students just as much they enjoyed hearing about it )

The St. Michael’s students were from years 3-6 and selected to be
part of the Archibull program. They were all so keen to be part of the Young
Farming Champion visit and volunteered for a role on the day.

They had two students filming me and an official note-taker for
their Blogs. All students had their own note book and all were encouraged to
ask questions – which they certainly did!  Wow the students maintained their
attention for over an hour and were obviously enjoying learning about sheep –
meat and wool.

 It was a very interactive session. Their main interest was in learning about sheep and what happens on-farm through-out the year.

My favourite question was “what do I think of the stereotype of farmers (being 65yr old male)?” This highlighted to me that I wasn’t what they expected and they also recognised there are a lot of different people in farming.

The question which was asked by both schools was “do I feel isolated living in a rural town?” .  I replied that I feel more connected with people now than when I was living in Sydney where I felt almost anonymous. I told them it was just small things that make you feel part of the community like seeing people in the supermarket you know and
stopping and talking to them.  

I took different types of fleeces and wool products into the school, which they passed around and really loved.

The teachers at the school are so passionate about the Archibull Prize
program and are integrating the program within classroom activities.

My Crestwood High School visit was equally exhilarating. I spoke with the whole Yr 9 Ag class and a handful of Yr 9 Visual Arts students who were interested in participating in the Archibull program. As the Visual Arts students were the minority in my audience, I felt like there was a divide in the room and it may have been better to present to these 2 groups separately.

However I was wrong and as soon as I finished my presentation, the Visual Arts students came up to me and were ALL asking questions and then took me to the Visual Arts room and showed me their Archibull cow and their design drawings.

 I was very impressed! They will certainly do the Australian Wool Industry and the Archibull Program proud!

 The High School students were also very interested in my study and career path and also the opportunities that are available to them across the supply chain. They asked a lot of questions about wool and lamb prices, scale of production, cost of production at a commercial level. The Agriculture class were also looking at BioClip as a technology in the wool industry.  See it on YouTube here


There is also a great video about sheep shearers here

I would like to say a special thanks to Claudia Wythes from
Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) for supplying me with merino fabric samples to
take into the schools, so the students could feel the difference in wool types.

I would also like to say a special thanks to Deborah Leake from
MLA who is not only investing in the Young Farming Champions program but also ensuring the Beef/Sheep Young Farming Champions and the schools have access to all the resources created for schools by MLA

 “Being part of the Art4Agriculture team is so rewarding as our programs celebrate the immense diversity within primary industries, our people, the range of produce and our commitment to environmental stewardship” says Melissa

Melissa also created her own resources for her school visits

See Melissa’s video here:

and Melissa’s PowerPoint presentation here

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