For the past five years, Moruya High’s HSC students of agriculture, earth and environmental science and food technology have travelled inland to visit farms, national parks and rural communities on an annual week-long field trip.
Now the popular trip, known affectionately as “the top blokes and Sheilas tour,” which provides real-world examples of some of the theory students have learnt at school, will be used as a model for inland schools.
“We are hoping to secure funding so we can extend the program to other areas,” says Moruya High school Agriculture teacher Melissa Marshall, who has been part of the trip since it was conceived five years ago by Earth and Environmental Science teacher Duncan Norris.
Also on board since the annual trip first started is agriculture educator and advocate Aimee Snowden, who comes from a family of lucerne hay farmers in Tocumwal, NSW and runs Little Brick Pastoral, a movement which celebrates agriculture.
“Aimee knew one of the students who went on the first trip, so she was volunteered to help us make connections in the agricultural community along the Murrah River,” explains Melissa “thanks to Aimee, we’ve camped under the stars in an ancient red gum forest in Barmah, drenched sheep in Deniliquin, caught carp in Narrandera and played with piglets in Echuca.”
Aimee will be travelling to the coast this weekend to help celebrate the success of another field trip with Moruya High staff and students and to establish farming contacts in the Eurobodalla.
Despite many farmers facing yet another dry, hot summer, Aimee is passionate about the possibilities available in agriculture and especially about showcasing the range of careers in the industry.
“We all have an idea of what a ‘farmer’ looks like,” she laughs “but many people are surprised to hear about the diverse jobs available.”
This year food technology students were included on the trip for the first time, leading more of a “paddock to plate” emphasis than in previous years, Aimee says.
“We went to a large tomato farm, which produces many of the tomatoes which go into commercial pasta sauces and to a rice mill and a butchery in Deniliquin.”
Students were amazed to hear that when Japenese companies buy Australian rice, they send representatives from Japan who bring pots into the field and cook up samples. Paddock to plate indeed!
For Melissa, the highlight of the trip is watching students realise that nothing in life can be compartmentalised.
“At first, they ask “is today an agriculture visit? or a food tech visit?” and after about 36 hours, the penny drops as they realise that learning, just like life, is not segmented into syllabuses,” she says.
This Friday, Aimee and the teachers and students of Moruya High School invite you to join them to learn more about the coast to country expeditions, the educational and personal significance of these journeys and how you can be involved in making this adventure even bigger.
“We want to share the story of the trip and ask the local community if they’d be interested in reciprocating with inland schools like Griffith High School,” Melissa says“we really believe this trip can change lives – when my students reflect on their best experiences in high school, they often say it was the trip.”
“Although, I don’t know why,” she adds cheekily “stuck in two minibuses for a week with Duncan’s country music blaring!”
Join Moruya High at the SAGE Garden at 4 pm, Friday 22nd November to learn more. RSVP to secure your free tickets at https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/coast-to-country-moruya-high-schools-big-adventure-tickets-80810746117