Geography is increasingly being used in The Archibull Prize to teach agriculture through the Ecosystem of Expertise:
- Building long term partnerships with best practice farms the students investigate and report on
- Working with our Young Farming Champions to get a big picture understanding of the agriculture supply chain and the diversity of people and roles that feed and clothe us, supply us with ecosystem services and renewable energy
Today we chat to teacher Amy Gill from Youth Off the Streets to see how she makes the Ecosystem of Expertise work in practice.
Action4Agriculture first met Amy in 2018 when she was working at the newly opened Youth Off The Streets (YOTS) school The Lakes College (TLC). The independent school and its disadvantaged students participated in The Archibull Prize with Young Farming Champion Tim Eyes, visiting Tim’s The Food Farm as they learnt about the Australian beef industry.
For Tim, who has entertained children both in mainstream schools and at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, hosting the TLC students was an enjoyable and eye-opening experience.
“It was really refreshing having unfiltered, blunt questions – they were just very honest kids. They had real questions about red meat and feeding people under the poverty line so we spoke about exploring the secondary cuts such as mince, which is accessible, diverse, and quick and easy to use,” says Tim.
Read about the students highly inspiring journey here
Amy also took her Archies cohort to Grace Springs Farm in Kulnura, on the NSW central coast, and this was the beginning of an “amazing partnership”.
“In the end we formed such a strong relationship [with Grace Farms] that Youth Off The Streets decided to run a learning unit called Bee the Cure, centred around whether the decrease in bee populations can be remediated on a community level,” says Amy.
“Once that was finished, we continued to go out there every week and once I left that campus my colleagues continued the program, which is amazing.”
Originally, Amy took the pupils to the property to learn about sustainable farming.
“It was during the drought and we wanted to teach them the ways we could farm to make the most of the ecosystem and environment that we live in.”
“Last year, I reached out to Grace Springs with a plan for another project-based learning unit where one group would learn about beekeeping and another would go into the farm and do all the chores like picking up eggs, cleaning out the milking machine, transferring the birds around the paddock, and feeding pigs.
“It’s a hands-on experience and a breath of fresh air for the students. We can hug a cow or hold a chicken and it’s not going to judge you. That animal therapy is absolutely beautiful.”
Watch the very moving tribute to farmers the YOTS students created in 2018
Despite most of Youth Off The Streets students not coming from agricultural backgrounds, some are now considering careers in the industry and as Amy has moved to other campuses she continues to encourage those interested.
“One girl in my current class has found a real interest in farming through our ‘Archie’ discussions and is currently doing a personal interest project on livestock and beef. She’s considering being a cattle farmer. Until such options are put in front of them, they don’t know they exist because they live in a very isolated world with little opportunity.”
Amy, originally a drama teacher who now teaches across curriculum, says that projects like Bee the Cure demonstrate a link between geography and agriculture.
“They fit into geography and also a science module ‘Living World.’
Listen to Amy speak about her new program SOLAR (Schooling via Off-campus Learning for At-Risk students) and continued passion for her students here
Read more about the wonderful work Amy is doing at YOTS here
The Archibull Prize is an example of project based learning. Listen to Amy talk about project based learning here
#ArchieAction #PartneredLearning #ProjectBasedLearning #YouthVoices #YOTS