Meet Archibug – They’re Healthy. They’re Sustainable. So Why Don’t Humans Eat More Bugs?

Action4Agriculture has recently received National Career’s Institute funding to pilot a best practice model for workforce development.

The target group is young people aged 15 to 24 who may fall through the cracks without the necessary support systems.

This will see us working with three groups of young people

  1. Young people still in school
  2. Young people who have left school
  3. Young people attending schools for specific purposes

If you are not familiar with the concept of schools for specific purposes let me introduce you to the Youth off the Streets (YOTS) model a passion project of Father Chris Riley.

We have been working with YOTS for a number of years and what a joy it is

This year Eden College at Macquarie Fields put their hands up to participate in The Archibull Prize. They recorded their learning journey on Wakelet

Equally working with the state governments version of YOTS like Penrith Valley Learning Centre who won The Archibull Prize in 2020 we are always just blown away by how deeply these young people think

Students who attend these schools often come from a childhood of adverse experiences, sometimes horrendous adverse experiences. These wonderful schools have very special teachers with the skills to turn their lives around and give them hope they can break the cycle of disadvantage and create a bright future for themselves.

Lets have a look at how Eden College took a deep dive into The Archibull Prize Challenge 

The Big Idea

After conducting a vote, our class decided that we would research the UN’s SDG 2: Zero Hunger. We came to this decision after reflecting on the variety of ways different countries are impacted by hunger.

After looking into what ‘food insecurity’ means and understanding how different countries eat, we discovered the enormous amount of food wasted and discovered that humans waste 1/3 of all food produced! AND that there is enough food produced to feed everyone in the world but that due to wastage, people are food insecure. This was the main inspiration for our project.

With minimising food waste as our goal, we decided to look into alternate food sources that were both environmentally sustainable and would allow for greater food security internationally. We found out that billions of people are currently consuming insects as part of their diet. Despite our initial hesitation, we pursued this idea to understand that not only are these insects nutritious, they are cheap to farm and do not require as much energy, space or feed to produce in comparison to our traditional western forms of protein (eg. chicken, beef, pork etc).

We asked the students at Eden College to tells us what success looked like. This is what they said

Success in 2022 first and foremost looked like the completion of this project. Seeing the disappointment in not being able to bring the vision of our social action group to life in 2021 (due to COVID lockdowns) motivated us to do our best this year.

We also measured success by:

  • collaborating on ideas and working well as a group to bring our vision to fruition
  • learning about the UN’s SDGs (specifically zero hunger). We completed various activities and consumed information from the CSIRO, National Geographic and WHO to learn about Indigenous Australian hunting and gathering processes, Cambodian and Thai experiences with food insecurity and how to irradicate it.
  • using this knowledge to come up with viable solutions

We believe as a class that we have achieved major success through this project and have inspired small changes within our school.

We asked them what they found EXCELLENT, UNFORTUNATE, SUPRISING

See what we mean, what a joy it is to work with young people who are ACTIVE and AWARE and have the capacity to help us #CreateABetterWorldTogether

Meet the Eden College’s Archibug

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Impact Reports – An opportunity to celebrate the extraordinary people you work with doing extraordinary things

At Action4Agriculture we work with some truly wonderful people. One of those is our journalist Mandy McKeesick. She is such a pleasure to brief and the outcomes always bring great joy.Mandy is the author of our Impact Reports and yesterday we made our 2021 report live. 

We celebrated the students and teachers we work with who are changing the world.

We celebrated the young people in agriculture we work with who are changing the world.

We celebrated our funding partners and our supporting partners who enable them to create a world we are all proud to be part of.

Young people may only be 20% of the population but they are 100% of the future

The research shows they are the demographic who are aware and active. They also have the capacity to bring the rest of us along with them.

Extraordinary things are happening in our schools –

Just a couple of examples – read our Impact Report to celebrate the many others

Watch this extract from an international presentation given by our founder Lynne Strong and teacher Kristen Jones

Banksia Awards finalists Hamilton Public School’s entry for the 2021 Kreative Koalas Competition

 

Visit their website here    

And the magnificent team at Penrith Valley Learning Centre – so looking forward to celebrating their win in person

2022 is the year the team at Action4Agriculture get the opportunity to deliver best practice.

And we welcome funding and supporting partners who, like us, know success requires investing in a marathon not a sprint

How Danila Marini is promoting diversity, equity and inclusion conversations in agriculture

In high school, Danila Marini “never felt comfortable in my own skin”. The Young Farming Champion (YFC) tried to heavily hide their femininity at the agricultural high school they attended in South Australia, but although was called a tomboy never really wanted to be a male.

“In the early 2000s I didn’t have much exposure to the LGBTQI+ community and only knew of some terms like bisexual while the term non-binary was non-existent,” Danila said.

Now, as the newly appointed Action4Agriculture Sustainable Development Goal 3 (Good Health and Well-being) Ambassador, Danila (30) is excited at the opportunity to share their story with today’s high school students.  

 

The Ambassador appointment came about after Danila participated in a workshop designed for The Archibull Prize (TAP) students of  Mary MacKillop Catholic College in Wakeley, western Sydney. The all-girls school was interested in showcasing gender diversity in agriculture and a workshop was coordinated by SDG 5 (Gender Equality) Ambassador Francesca Earp with strong female leads including Tayla Field, Dione Howard, Chloe Dutschke and Katherine Bain. Danila’s inclusion facilitated open discussions about gender fluidity and non-binary people in agriculture.

 

“There’s definitely a gender bias in many industries such as science and agriculture that swing towards the classic straight white cis male,” Danila said 

Danila who is a CSIRO experimental scientist and animal ethics co-ordinator also recognises the hurdles for women and gender diverse people, whether related to societal expectations about having a family, or professional stereotypes.

I have had someone say to me I don’t look like someone who would have a PhD,” says they and  “non-binary people present the same,” they said

 

For Francesca, 25, whose masters and PhD are focused on gender equity and the exclusionary past of feminist history and how it shapes the engagement and empowerment of non-dominant feminist groups, working with a Danila was timely and eye-opening.

 

“I hadn’t met anyone previously in the ag sector who identified as non-binary,” says Francesca. “The same is true of my work in agricultural development, which is an unfortunate reality of traditional patriarchal perspectives of agriculture that either don’t provide opportunities to non-binary practitioners or researchers or don’t make them feel welcome while fostering engagement and empowerment in the sector.

“Danila was really open in talking about how we could improve the inclusivity of the workshop sessions, talking about equity in general, rather than specifying who we were fighting to have equality for, which I’d really like to take further in my own future research.”

 Franny says everyday is an opportunity to open your eyes and see the world from some-one else’s perspective 

Danila and Francesca are welcome role models for young people with a personal interest in gender diversity and this illustrates how Action4Agriclutre empowers these young people to talk about the issues important to them, and to take everyone along on a journey of understanding.

 

“Gender equity is a very complex issue and by focusing on only the ‘female’ aspects of gender equity you not only heavily impact minority groups but women themselves,” says Danila. “I’m not afraid to speak up about my experiences and I realise people can’t change or learn if you are not willing to help.”

 

After the workshop, Danila said that being a good ally to non-binary people meant being cognisant of the fact that gender is complex. Asking for pronouns and remembering to correct mistakes are two important things.

“It’s very important to understand that non-binary is not a ‘third’ gender – it’s an encompassment of gender fluidity and not all non-binary people present the same,” says they. “Also, do not lump woman and non-binary people together for events if you are not willing to accept non-binary people that are assigned male at birth.”

 

Having role models in agriculture who promote diversity, equity and inclusion is not only important for students but for teachers, families and communities. Leah Brown, TAP teacher at Mary McKillop, says her students are passionate about highlighting gender issues and contributing to fulfilling gender goals.

“We know that real life activities and projects are great for engaging students in their learning and building relevance and connections to what they are learning with the wider community and the world.”

 Applications are now open for the 2022 Archibull Prize here 

 

The Power of Art to Heal

This post shines a spotlight on SDG 3 and how The Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas can improve the health of our students and our selves

The United Nations Sustainability Development Goals (SDG) underpin our Action4Agriculture (A4A) school programs and our values. In schools students are tasked with identifying a goal they want to achieve

 

The problem they have to solve or the barrier they need to overcome to achieve their goal

We then invite them to design and deliver a community behavior change program to make it happen

 

In past years popular SDGs chosen by schools have been:

  • SDG 2 – Zero Hunger
  • SDG 12 – Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 – Climate Action
  • SDG 14 – Life Below Water
  • SDG 15 – Life on Land

In 2021 The Henry Lawson High School in Grenfell, NSW, became the first school to incorporate SDG 3 – Good Health and Well-being, as their theme to guide their Archibull Prize entry. Teacher Jillian Reidy explains their progress to date:

“Our vision for our 2021 Archie was to focus on well-being and use the cow to be a public artwork to express well-being words provided by the community and well-being initiatives within the school. Well-being initiatives include the design of a well-being haven for students, and a colour run that was designed but which we have not been able to run due to COVID restrictions. We have also initiated another public art project working with the council which will explore well-being. Funding has been applied for and we are hoping to have it completed mid 2022.”

Watch Jillian talk about how the school was inspired to go on their journey here

Living with a pandemic has forced us all to re-evaluate our own health and well-being and to develop strategies to increase resilience. In the Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) Annual Statistical Report 2018 resilience in adolescents was found to be higher when they had a strong sense of belonging at school and had friends they could trust and communicate with about problems. The Henry Lawson High School is proactive on this strengthening of resilience.

Similarly, in primary schools it has been important to build resilience, especially in school communities where the pandemic came hot on the heels of devastating bushfires in 2019-2020. To support these schools St Vincent de Paul’s (Vinnies)  Bushfire Recovery and Community Development Program provided funding to deliver Kreative Koalas into five schools.

The Vinnies Program has three major areas of focus – future preparedness and building resilience, community cohesion, and environmental regeneration and sustainability. “Vinnies views Kreative Koalas as aligning with all three, but particularly the resilience building and environmental sustainability,” John Fenech, the manager of Community Development Bushfire Recovery at St Vincent de Paul Society of NSW says.

The Australian Government recently created a Student Wellbeing Hub, which incorporates Beyond Blue’s report on resilience in children aged 0-12. This resource is available to teachers who can use further resources within Kreative Koalas to create targeted resilience interventions for their students in need.

When we take time to reflect we realise SDG 3 affects not only our students and teachers but all of us. Our good health and well-being underpins all we do in our lives, just as the SDG underpins the work of Action4Agriculture.

Read how more of our Archibull Prize schools are building resilience here

Apply to participate in The Archibull Prize 2022 here 

Apply to participate in Kreative Koalas 2022 here 

#sustainability #environmental #resilience #pandemic #bushfirerecovery

 

Archie Action – Pymble Ladies College Embedding Agriculture in the Geography Curriculum

Case-study 3: Meet Ray Howells, Geography Teacher at Pymble Ladies’ College, who has integrated ‘Ecosystem of Expertise’ into the Stage 5 Geography Program

Geography is increasingly being used in The Archibull Prize to teach agriculture by surrounding the school with an Ecosystem of Expertise through:

  • Building long term partnerships with best practice farms the students investigate and report on
  • Working with our Young Farming Champions to get an understanding of how our food travels from paddock to plate and the diversity of people and roles that feed and clothe us, supply us with ecosystem services and renewable energy

Today we visit Pymble Ladies’ College (PLC) to see how they make the Ecosystem of Expertise work in practice.

Geography teacher Ray Howells grew up “with the smell of cow manure” in an English country village. He went onto teach and lead the geography department in an inner-city London school where some students had never visited a farm. But today at Pymble Ladies’ College, many of his pupils, although predominantly from Sydney, have rural connections.

“The sense of community at the College is really strong, one day a student was talking about her parent’s farm,” says Ray. “I thought it would be nice to foster this interest in agriculture in class, so I sent an email out to all of the past boarding families and friends who I thought might be supportive of this.”

In response to Ray’s call-out to the wider Pymble community, a flourishing relationship has developed with Blantyre Farms in Young, southwest NSW, and family business Montrose Dairy in southern VIC.  The students involved decided to explore how to address hunger and food insecurity through ‘the Archies’. Through Covid-19, the use of technology and digital resources has made learning accessible and enabled the Archibull program to continue.

Blantyre Farms is a mixed farming operation including sheep, cattle, cropping and pigs.

“I am fortunate to be a Pymble girl and my daughter is also a boarder at Pymble so when Ray put out the call for parents [in agriculture] to be involved I eagerly answered,” says Edwina Beveridge from Blantyre Farms. “Feeding the world is a noble profession and I hope a visit to our farms will challenge the student’s perceptions of sustainability and agriculture. Our farm is not what you would expect.”

Indeed, Blantyre can show students examples of cutting-edge technology. With 2000 sows on the farms this means they have about 20,000 pigs on hand at any time, but in an innovative solution the farm captures methane from the pig manure and turns it into electricity.

“This massively reduces our carbon footprint and allows us to generate carbon credits. We were the second project registered under the CFI [Carbon Farming Initiative] and the first farm. I like to say we are the first carbon farm in Australia and I am yet to be challenged on this!

“I grew up on a farm but showed no particular interest until I was 24. I hope this might show the students it doesn’t matter if you grew up on a farm or whether your enthusiasm started later, ag is a cracking career,” says Edwina.

Another ex-PLC student to answer Ray’s call was Gillian Hayman from Montrose Dairy.

“As a student I was always eager to understand how what I was learning related to the real world and I am sure there are many students who learn in this way.  The opportunity to learn the theory in the classroom with Ray and then back up the learning with Montrose and Blantyre Farms is a positive step and will no doubt lead to many other linkages for students.  I hope it will open their minds and perhaps break down some long-held perceptions about who a farmer is and how they go about their business in these modern times,” says Gillian.

“Unless young people are introduced to rural areas and farming through family connections or through their schooling they will not discover the possibilities open to them and there are so many exciting career opportunities across all aspects of agriculture. There are jobs from the research in labs and in the field to hands-on farming; from technology, greenhouse gas emissions, soil, plant and animal management, environment and biodiversity to nutrition, community development and economics.  Even if people do not choose a career in ag, it’s so important to understand food production and land management as a consumer.”

Ray echoes Gillian’s sentiments.

“We really want to make Year Nine and Ten Geography interesting and relatable. If the girls decide not to continue the subject in Stage 6 that’s fine, there are so many avenues and opportunities available to choose from. I’m confident we’ve given them a comprehensive snapshot of the big issues we face in Australia and the world, which is my objective.”

Helping students to make those decisions is Tayla Field and her network of fellow Young Farming Champions. Tayla, who works in horticulture, is assigned to PLC through The Archibull Prize.

“The students were able to provide a list of questions which was a great starting point, however I noticed a lot of these were in areas beyond horticulture so I reached out to the YFC asking for support. Marlee Langfield provided insights into agricultural yield from crops, Anika Molesworth gave her thoughts on the future of farming in Australia and Emma Ayliffe commented on the role of water in Australia’s dry climate. Other members of the YFC team came back with videos and we were able to create a range of online resources specifically for the PLC students,” says Tayla.

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Screenshots of the PLC Virtual Classroom created to support the students during COVID lockdown

Having access to the Young Farming Champions network through Tayla and having access to two operating farms means PLC is using the Ecosystem of Expertise to its highest degree, and the subject of geography has made the pathway clearer.

 

Tayla has a long history as a YFC of inspiring students to consider careers in agriculture. See case study here 

 

Ray sees this of enormous benefit to both his students and to agriculture.

“We have this very stereotypical image in the media of what agriculture is, like what you might see on ‘Farmer Wants a Wife. Opportunities like The Archibull Prize, Kreative Koalas, and other initiatives outside the classroom can help broaden this and show agriculture as a cutting-edge industry that is undergoing a new wave of technological revolution. With this paradigm shift, there are exciting opportunities to encourage, educate and upskill the next generation to work in innovative and wide-range fields of 21st Century agriculture.”

This concludes our 3 Part Series that showcases the opportunities for work integrated learning and how to embed the world of agriculture into the wider school curriculum

We talk to the Lorraine Chaffer from the Geography teachers association here 

We talk to Amy Gill from Youth of the Streets here

#ArchieAction #YouthinAction #YouthinAg

Want to drive change – who do you think should be the messenger?

One of the keys to being a successful changemaker is the capacity to identify the best role models for your audience. Who will be the most effective messenger?

Part of the Action4Agriculture experience for teachers participating in The Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas – design a bright future competition is access to experts who share with our teachers the psychology of change management. Our Changeologist Les Robinson reminds schools about the importance of choosing the right messenger in his brilliant 60 minute workshops on The Art of Change. Our experience also tells us schools who support each other make things happen faster

Today’s blog post shows the pivotal role connectors play in creating a thriving community network and marrying the often complex concepts of agriculture, sustainability and environment. A wonderful example of this ecosystem at work was highlighted recently through Hamilton Public School and the Centre of Excellence In Agricultural Education .

Zane Osborn is the assistant principal at Hamilton Public School in Newcastle where UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) have informed learning for the past three years. With a school garden already a community focal point for SDGs Zane approached Kris Beazley at the Centre of Excellence and joined their No Bees No Future project. Kris in turn suggested Hamilton Public School participate in Action4Agriculture’s Kreative Koalas, which it commenced in 2021.

As part of the Kreative Koalas project Hamilton Public conducted surveys with students and families and came to three conclusions:

  • Most people in the community would like to contribute to positive climate action,
  • Very few people knew about the SDGs,
  • People want simple ideas they can action right now in their home and community to help the environment

“We talked about how the simple things we do in our garden (that have a positive impact on the climate) can be an example to other people in the community and can inspire them to do the same; things such as preserving biodiversity, eliminating chemicals, encouraging and preserving pollinators. We wanted to do some peer to peer teaching and educate our community of families and other nearby schools.” Zane says.

This peer-to-peer messaging took the form of a series of impressive videos broadcasted on YouTube.

“With a Sustainable School Grant and lots of passionate students and teachers we were able to drive the creation of Blue Gate Garden TV. Students created episodes all based around “lessons” on how people can make a positive impact on the climate,” Zane says.

Students and staff at Hamilton Public School have successfully taken complex eco-literacy concepts and created a common language for all.

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Read more about Hamilton Public School here 

Not to be outdone Kris Beazley was also working on eco-literacy with her Year 7 AgSTEM students at the Centre of Excellence, by creating resources for primary students.

“Our Year 7 AgSTEM student team consists of nine students who are undertaking a unique learning model. In their curriculum they focus all their learning through four lenses – Sustainability, Agriculture, STEM and Aboriginal Knowledges. This year our student team have engaged in a number of projects aimed at educating themselves and others about issues related to the environment and climate action.  In this capacity they have worked with primary school aged children, teenagers and adults from varying generations. This translational approach has been a theme throughout their work this year,” Kris says.

Tapping into the school’s wealth of agricultural connectors the students were able to commence their research with a Hackathon with Cotton Australia and Australian Wool Innovation, which influenced their project for The Archibull Prize.

“As part of their Archie the students developed teaching resources for primary school students about sustainable fibre production in Australia and end of life options for Australian cotton and wool. In completing their project they have written educational books, learning resources and games for primary aged students. They also presented a workshop for primary students across NSW as part of an Ag Week conference, promoting sustainable end of life options for cotton,” Kris says.

Working with agricultural connectors and participating in programs such as Kreative Koalas and The Archibull Prize has enabled students across primary and secondary schools to engage peer-to-peer messaging. The result has been an increase in eco-literacy within communities, celebrated by Blue Gate Garden TV and a suite of new shared educational resources. And in a spectacular polish to these achievements both Hamilton Public School and the Centre of Excellence have been recognised as finalists in the NSW Banksia Awards Minister’s Young Climate Champion category  

The Minister’s Young Climate Champion Award recognises young innovators aged under 18 years who bring bold ideas for a safe and thriving climate future that align with any of the UN SDGs. Young and passionate minds who have taken outstanding actions that benefit the sustainability of their communities and help address climate change will be showcased in this award, which is a celebration of young people with drive, commitment and a passion for sustainability and the environment.”

Mega congratulations to all involved.

 

 

 

Archie Action Case-study 2: Meet Amy Gill, a teacher with Youth Off the Streets and a passionate advocate for the role agriculture plays in teaching disadvantaged kids

 

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.

Photo source 

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

Its Archie Action Time – Case-study 1: Meet Lorraine Chaffer who has a passion for geography and it’s ‘place’ in education

When Emeritus Professor Jim Pratley AM speaks people listen. Speaking recently in the media Jim was quoted as saying

“Agriculture as an industry doesn’t engage with the education system and it’s about time it did, otherwise we won’t have a workforce.

The dependence on itinerant workers and students participating in gaps years is a pretty shallow strategy. I can’t see that operating too long into the future. 

The organisations who are operating in the space must publish their results. If you don’t do it  you may as well not have done it because nobody knows about it.”

We are listening Jim and we look forward to sharing with the world the extraordinary impact our programs are having in Australian schools

For over a decade Action4Agriculture has connected school students to Australian agriculture through The Archibull Prize and Young Farming Champions. In that time a multitude of learning areas including science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM) have been employed to deliver the program. Increasingly geography teachers are is embedding aspects of agriculture in the curriculum, as a direct result of participating in our programs, as it provides place and context to learning.

Lorraine Chaffer is the Vice President and ‘immediate past president’, of the Geography Teachers Association of NSW & ACT and has a passion for her subject. She realised there was often a lack of understanding about agriculture and that the opportunities and challenges that it presents are an important component of the geography curriculum.

“It’s all about STEM [or STEAM] now and our argument is that Geography is the perfect STEM subject because we tie it all together. With geography you can link the science etc to what’s going on at a place. Geography marries science and agriculture – it makes the learning authentic and linked to the real world through ‘place’,” she says.

To increase her agricultural knowledge Lorraine began attended an agricultural conference where she heard Young Farming Champion Dr Anika Molesworth speak on climate action.

“I saw Anika present at the Brave New World Agriculture to 2030 Conference in Sydney in November 2018. Much of what she said had links to topics in the NSW Geography Syllabus. I was impressed by Anika’s positivity about the future and her message about taking action and later found a TED talk she had made the previous year. The link to geography was very strong so I approached Anika, via Twitter, with a request to present at the GTANSW & ACT Annual Conference in Sydney – using a mix of her Brave New World and TED talks. We were not disappointed. Anika’s got the practical, common sense of a farmer and the science knowledge from her academic studies, but also ideas about what needs to be done about climate change.”

Through her association with Anika, Lorraine was connected with Lynne Strong and Action4Agriculture and realised the strong messages delivered through programs such as The Archibull Prize were a perfect fit for geography. She promoted the program through the official association journal, the Geography Bulletin and made Action4Agriculture the official charity of GTANSW & ACT.

The NSW Geography syllabus for Stage 5 (Year 9 and 10) has a content area centred around food, fibre and industrial production using the earth’s biomes. Lorraine says that her focus has been promoting geography as an issues-based subject that integrates issues related to agriculture and the underlying science on which sustainable agriculture and food security depend. The skills developed through a study of geography marry well with the transferable employment skills developed through programs such as The Archibull Prize.

“It’s great that schools are doing things that are not out of the textbook, such as participating in ‘the Archies’ and taking students to visit farms. This is demonstrating real world solutions to problems. And the great thing with geography, especially in NSW, is that we have great flexibility in what we do. We have a broad curriculum that says ‘okay, you’re talking about food production and biomes’. It’s not saying that everybody has to study rice. If there’s an issue around in agriculture in a particular year that’s what you can focus on.

Something I’m always on the lookout for is new resources, new ideas, and new ways of teaching the old stuff, but in a bit more of an exciting way. And if you can engage the kids and make them think about agriculture as an option in their future careers, open their eyes a little bit, then even better!”

To support teachers and geographers like Lorraine to incorporate agriculture into the geography curriculum Action4Agriculture establishes a two-tiered 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

Further case-studies in our geography series will look at three schools – The Lakes College (YotS), Eden College(YotS) and Pymble Ladies’ College (PLC) – and how they put the Ecosystem of Expertise into practice.

Opportunities in agriculture are the worlds best kept secret no more

 

#agricultureinthecurriculum #partneredlearning #ecosystemofexpertise #ArchieAction

 

 

Archies’ inspires students to take on big issues in pandemic

 

Spurred on by our world-renowned school program where schools are assigned a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to look at through the lens of agriculture, schools are confronting issues related to farming and beyond 

In a classroom in a conservative area of central NSW, about 420km from Sydney, a group of students are having an honest and frank discussion about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) rights. 

Inspired by Action for Agriculture’s (A4A) The Archibull Prize, which encourages project-based learning and has led to them investigating hunger and climate change, these young people from The Henry Lawson High School in Grenfell are now also confronting wellbeing, through exploring their perspective on youth mental health and other timely issues.

 

“The Archibull Prize is allowing our students to explore their perspective of, and connection to the world, and they strongly connect with the rights of people to express themselves and live openly in a community where they’re accepted by everyone,” says Jillian Reidy.

Jillian is the relieving head teacher in science, agriculture, art and information communication technology (ICT), and a Highly Accomplished Teacher (HAT), from The Henry Lawson High School. 

The school is exploring SDG 3, Good health and Wellbeing, in this year’s ‘Archie’ entry. 

“We’re a very traditional country community, so to have the students discussing LGBTIQ rights and other big social issues, including racism directed towards the Asian population during the COVID outbreak, has been powerful,” says Jillian. 

Watch Jillian present her students’ vision at the 2021 May NSW/ACT Geography Teachers Association Conference

In a year when many programs have come to a halt, The Archibull Prize has continued. The schools involved in it have not only survived but thrived – thanks to their champion teachers who are role models for how to keep students inspired during a pandemic. The schools’ progress is proof that even in the worst of times, we can keep going. 

Through The Archibull Prize, schools select an SDG that is important to them and their region. They then design and deliver a Community Behavior Change project to help their region achieve Australia’s SDG targets  

“We have a lot of students from very high risk poverty areas with families that are struggling and have no work so food can be tight,” says Amy Gill, a HAT and SOLAR program lead with Youth Off the Streets.

Listen to Amy and students talk about the program on ABC News here 

A report by the University of Melbourne estimates that over 50,000 young people are missing from the school system at any given time.

The SOLAR Project is an off-campus adjustment, using online platforms, to support students in achieving their educational outcomes used by Youth Off the Streets. 

 “We’re dropping food hampers off once a week to support them, but there’s other challenges within the home. Domestic violence for instance is a huge challenge particularly when everyone’s stuck at home together.”

 To keep students motivated, Youth Off the Streets are using innovative and creative learning methods including one evoking The Circle of Courage, a Native American childhood practice which has the themes of belonging, mastery, independence and generosity at its heart.

“A young person really needs to belong in different aspects of their life.  Many disadvantaged students also feel like they’ve lost the skill of mastery. When learning remotely they feel behind their peers and can lack confidence coming back into the classroom. Our program is helping them cope.”  says Amy. 

 Through programs like The Archibull Prize, students grappling with their identity are also realising that they have a valuable contribution to make. 

 “Young people are really struggling to find their place, especially during the pandemic, but at school they find their purpose through initiatives like The Archibull Prize,” says Amy. 

 The project based learning approach of Youth Off The Streets includes innovative projects such as Speak for the Banyula (an Indigenous word meaning many trees), a geography and science unit, centred around caring for country, sustainability and land management. The Happiest Man on Earth, a history and English module incorporating the arts, involves reading a memoir written by Australian Holocaust survivor Eddie Jaku.

“We do a lot of art, and try to drop off home learning packs with hands-on activities because sitting at a computer all day is quite exhausting for young people,” says Amy. 

​​While the Youth Off The Streets are confronting hunger in their daily lives, teachers at Pymble Ladies’ College on Sydney’s North Shore are trying to make it real for their students – again using the ‘Archies’.

 “The girls are so incredible when it comes to research, the students decided to focus on the issue of hunger and food waste in Australia, with more than one-in-five Australians going to bed hungry.

 The Archibull Prize provided an additional avenue to develop student’s passion in this area, building on what we do in geography and more widely around the college such as the boarding community, agriculture studies in the upper and senior school. In geography, it has provided a platform to make an impact at a community level and for them to feel like they’re creating change.” says Ray Howells, who teaches geography and business studies at Pymble Ladies’ College. 

Pymble Ladies’ College’s 2021 ‘Archie’ entry will become a future school mascot to spur on action to end hunger as well as addressing climate change.  

 “Programs like the ‘Archies’ have also piqued students’ interest in farming, with many keen to visit country friends during their holidays. It’s also been incredible for me, not being from this country, seeing how important the agriculture industry is here in Australia and how it connects so many families,” he says.

Students are planning to visit a farm in Young which belongs to one of their student’s family once COVID restrictions lift. See Footnote* 

The interviews with our Archibull Prize teachers reinforce what A4A discovered a decade ago when we began surveying young people: that today’s generation are more resilient. 

Our findings are backed up by research from Deloitte. A year after their lives were upended by the global pandemic, nearly half of millennials and gen z’s told the 2021 Millennial and Gen Z Survey that they were  anxious or stressed either all or most of the time. But there’s a silver lining; COVID has motivated 70 per cent to improve their lives. 

Previous Deloitte reports have found that millennials not only want a different world but want to lead the charge, and that they value experiences, traits that our Archies teachers also say that they are witnessing. 

“Initiatives like The Archibull Prize help develop the “four Cs – critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication, along with self-confidence, skills that the jobs of the future will require.” says Jillian from The Henry Lawson High School. 

In addition, the program drives young people’s sense of willingness and commitment to work together to create a better world.  

“If students can see the importance of their voice and realise how they can communicate their ideas to an audience through visual tools, then we are doing our job in supporting them in becoming a valuable citizen of the future.” 

Footnote

In the future, the opportunity for PLC students to visit and interact with farms like Blantyre Farm and Montrose Dairy and other agricultural-based organisations is an exciting avenue with lots of potential for deeper learning and student interest in the agriculture sector from a career perspective.

 

 

Never underestimate the impact of a teacher who challenges and stretches students

From discussions on Afghanistan to painting the ‘Archies’’ cow while talking about saving our seas, there’s no subject that’s off limits for today’s students led by their champion teachers. Here we meet one of them.  

 

At multicultural Riverstone High School in northwest Sydney, Sana Said, an Australian-born support classroom teacher with a Syrian and Lebanese background, doesn’t walk into the classroom and announce that students will discuss “human rights, slavery and genocide in unknown parts of the world”.

 

“It’s usually organic rather than prepared but that’s better as students are eager to learn about what interests them rather than be forced into something that doesn’t.

Current issues they have discussed include war, immigration, racism, unjust laws and bullying.” says Sana referring to some of the school’s unique initiatives, like their PRIDE Projects. 

 

It’s the same approach that the 33-year-old takes to The Archibull Prize with her students, who opted to investigate Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 – to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development” – for this year’s entry.

 

“We’ll have discussions on issues – things that aren’t necessarily part of the core curriculum but will come up,” says Sana,

Adding that she is thankful to Action4Agriculture for providing online resources and regular newsletters to provide the kids some structure with the program.

 

“If you want students to absorb what they are learning, it’s important to give them ownership and immerse them in the experience, and this is what The Archibull Prize offers students. Starting with what the students value and giving them access to real people who are living the issues everyday, it’s giving both parties an opportunity to work on solutions together.”

 

Through the ‘Archies’, students have a platform to take away real knowledge of what is happening around them.

 

“It becomes infectious – when you tell one person something, they’ll tell somebody else and then all of a sudden it’s viral because it’s quite contagious information,” she says.

 

A teacher of 11 years, Sana was born to Muslim parents and grew up in Castle Hill in northwest Sydney. 

 

“Only a few of us had parents who were migrants and I remember all the comments that I got about how I didn’t fit the mould. 

I didn’t run away from people and hide, it just made me realise that I have to push myself a little bit more and make them see me for who I am rather than what I am.” ” says Sana.

 

When she started kindergarten she spoke only Arabic. At five she learnt English and still remembers “the anxiety that she suffered and the difficulty that she had with pronunciation and phonics.

 

“But kids are resilient.”

 

It was an assessment-driven place, where there were textbooks and computer labs but no laptops.

 

Sana was the first in her family to attend university. 

 

“I’ve never stopped wanting to be a teacher since I started, but I didn’t grow up wanting to become one.   

In my background your ‘career’ is being a housewife and it wasn’t until I went to uni that I was like ‘oh I want to be a teacher, I didn’t realise how good at it I am’ and how important it is for me to achieve my career aspirations.” she says. 

 

She moved around schools in NSW after graduating.

 

In Tamworth in the state’s northeast, Sana taught in two different schools with a high population of Indigenous students.

 

“It is less multicultural up there than other parts of Australia. I was the only Arab there and easily spotted among the crowds.” she says.

 

In her first year of teaching at Riverstone, a co-educational school that “takes pride in their appearance” and puts students’ tables in a circle rather than in lines, it’s a different cultural mix to Tamworth. 

 

“We’ve got Polynesian and Samoan families and we’re slowly getting Indian and some others from Asian backgrounds,” says Sana. 

 

Having been in grade eight during the September 11 attacks, when people “just assumed that all Arabs are terrorists”, she doesn’t shy away from confronting issues like the situation in Afghanistan with her students. 

 

“I’m very grateful that because my father was a lieutenant in the Syrian army, I understand war, and what it’s like for families to migrate to Australia and feel like an outsider.  

I have a lot of students wearing hijabs and kids going ‘why do you wear that, it’s stupid?’ But it’s not stupid to a student and it’s inappropriate that you even think that you can come up to her and tell her that because you obviously don’t have the full picture of the reason why.” ” says Sana.

 

Sana considers it a privilege to teach young people so they will challenge concepts and ideas in the world.

 

“They get to vote when they finish high school,” she says.

 

Riverstone has a number of progressive school initiatives, including their PRIDE Projects, where a teacher creates a topic that they would like to explore, writing out a proposal with a timeline of what they’d like to achieve each week over ten weeks. The scheme involves showcasing a product that you can donate to, for instance a program helping the housing or a clothing or food drive, to raise awareness of social and health issues. Launched in 2019, the projects aim to fuel creativity and wellbeing. They include those in which the students aim to donate secondhand clothes to organisations like The Salvation Army and Vinnies, plant their own vegetables to give to Hawkesbury Community Kitchens, and learn about different Polynesian cultures which they then showcase through performances and food sharing days. 

 

“It’s pushing the boundaries further so that we can educate kids why it’s important to donate, to give blood or save the environment especially in these weird times,” says Sana.

 

 As someone who considers herself being constantly open to challenge, Sana is conscious of seeking out new responsibilities at work.

 

“Times are changing and teachers are having to adapt because students are changing and we’re having to change with them by keeping up to date with new policies, new skills and technologies.  

I’m fortunate enough to work at a school where I have a head teacher who’s very supportive, who’s always saying ‘yes’ to my ideas.” she says.

 

COVID has of course presented its own challenges, with teaching in NSW currently completely online.

 

“It’s really full on, especially when you’re having to see your students through a computer screen and have phone calls with those who need one-on-one attention. It’s a very different learning environment to ensure that no-one is left behind,” says Sana.

 

She adds that during the pandemic teachers have been watching more students be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).   

 

“But programs like The Archibull Prize are helping keep students motivated. These sorts of programs are teaching students about sustainability and natural resources. It’s very vital information, because sometimes students are only seeing what’s on the news and it’s sometimes not accurate or blown out of proportion so they really need to hear it through primary sources, first-hand information, other than just what they’re hearing.”  says Sana, who remembers learning about agriculture in geography at school.

 

Having started teaching special education in 2016, in the future she would like to start a podcast highlighting children with disabilities.

 

Sana aspires to become a leader in education, whether this is through taking on a deputy principal role or another position.

 

“I’d love to be a head teacher because you get a mix of leadership and are still in the classroom connected with kids, building that rapport with kids which is the reason why I got into teaching in the first place.”