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The future of agriculture is a topic under much discussion in Queensland, however when you look at the microcosm of St Brendan’s College, a leading regional secondary day and boarding boys’ school in Yeppoon, there is no question that agriculture has a strong future with a significant cohort of young men with agriculture on their mind.
As a boarding school with a strong rural history, St Brendan’s College is fortunate to educate many young men who come to the college with an innate understanding of the industry, hailing from properties and towns around Central and western Queensland, however they are proud also to introduce a new generation of students to the industry by offering agriculture within the curriculum from Year 8.
Head of Agriculture, Mr Bill Oram, is adamant that while the college’s agriculture offering is a positive for those who come from rural backgrounds, it is the students without an existing awareness of agriculture that benefit particularly from SBC agriculture, and make for a bright future for the industry.
“To be honest, those students who have a strong understanding of agriculture; the ones who can go home on holidays and earn a man’s wage are at a slight disadvantage as they come into our classes with a significant pool of knowledge: but that’s OK as we use them as leaders in the classroom,” Mr Oram said.
“There are plenty of people who don’t have the family history on the land that are very successful in agriculture; and sometimes I would argue that they can be even more successful as they aren’t held back by tradition and are often open to change; and to innovation,” he said.
“SBC Agriculture is clear evidence that there is a bright future for agriculture, not just from those with a strong family connection with the land, but those whose interest and passion is spiked when they have the opportunity here to learn and be exposed to all the industry has to offer,” he said.
For Year 9 boarder Bryce Voll, he has already committed himself to a career in agriculture, is a valuable member of the college’s Cattle Club and Rodeo Club and is enjoying learning new things in his Year 9 Agriculture subject as part of his studies.
While not living on a property currently, Bryce’s family’s long association with rural industry having lived in Oakey, Normanton and now Cloncurry, has given him a love for agriculture which he is extending at St Brendan’s College.
Currently in the midst of regional Queensland Show season, Bryce and his Cattle Club teammates are often on the road on weekends undertaking Junior Parading, Led Steers and Junior Judging at regional shows, and with the College’s Cattle Club in growth phase Bryce will be one of the first to show St Brendan’s College-bred cattle during 2019 show season.
“So far this season Bryce and his team have competed at The Caves and Taroom Shows, Callide Valley in Biloela, with Ridgelands next up on our program,” Mr Oram said.
“I got a few firsts last year with led steers and went in Junior Parading, and I enjoy that because you are being judged on how you present your cattle, rather than on your cattle,” Bryce said.
“You learn how to walk, how to hold your cane; you learn how to present your cattle better and how to present yourself better,” Bryce said.
“I’ve always liked cattle and working with cattle, and now Year 9 agriculture has given me an opportunity to learn new things about farming; the germination process of plants, testing what conditions are better to grow plants in,” he said.
Three years in as a boarder at St Brendan’s College, Bryce has certainly taken advantage of every opportunity afforded to him.
Studying Core English, History, Mathematics, Science and Religion, Bryce most enjoys his time in his elective Agriculture and Metal Technology classes and with his significant extra-curricular activities.
“I’m a member of the Rodeo Club; and while I’m not the best I enjoy riding steers; I hope to try out for footy again this year, I’m enjoying agriculture and metal work at school, and I really enjoy going to shows with Cattle Club,” he said.
“We camp out under a tent in our swags, we get to meet a lot of other students from other schools and this year we’ve got quite a few new students who’ve joined Cattle Club,” he said.
Changes in the agriculture space at St Brendan’s College in 2019 will also allow for a wider range of choice for students interested in agriculture as a career.
“With changes in Queensland with the implementation of the ATAR system, we are excited to offer Agriculture as a General subject (ATAR) for our Year 11 students in 2020,” Mr Oram said.
“There are a lot of agriculture students in that cohort and we want to be able to give them the opportunity to extend themselves in agriculture, not only in the Vocational Education and Training space with our Rural Operations Certificates, but in the classroom to learn and see the pathways available in agriculture.”
“I have a background in agriculture, but as an educator I’ve been to the Australian Cotton Conference; and to the Agriculture Educators Conference and to see and hear about the innovations and pathways in agriculture is amazing, with robotics, with GPS tracking in cattle and so many other advances,” Mr Oram said.
St Brendan’s currently offers students access to agricultural studies via: Year 8 and 9 Agriculture as an elective subject; Year 10 Certificate I in Agrifoods; Certificate II in Rural Operations in Year 11 and Year 12. The College will offer Year 11 Agriculture as a General ATAR subject in 2020 and with enough interest from students will continue to offer this on an ongoing basis.