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Mobile Agriculture Workshop – Coonamble

Coonamble High School's agriculture teacher, Adam Macrae, is leading the charge to change minds and help shape futures for his agriculture students. In 2014 Adam received a grant to fund a mobile agricultural workshop trailer and equipment to train his students in industry-scale agricultural activities. The mobile agricultural workshop will allow students to gain practical skills in farming and primary industry to prepare them for roles in the workforce.

The School is seeing record numbers of students studying Agriculture and Adam's innovative idea was to work in partnership with the local shire council to develop the 800 hectare Coonamble Common as a student training centre.

A local farmer has also donated a sizable paddock for the students to practice their new-found agricultural skills.

Students, approximately 60% of whom are indigenous, are enjoying opportunities to learn under the guidance of Adam and other local mentors and are acquiring skills such as building fencing and cattle yards, breeding and managing livestock, cropping and beekeeping. This work helps students achieve school qualifications, and in some cases, assists them to gain work placements and future employment.

The funding purchased the trailer and also power tools, fencing tools, a generator and safety equipment. One of the main reasons for Adam's ambition to set his students on a positive path is his awareness of some of the challenges they face. Youth unemployment in Coonamble is nearly 19 per cent, and the shire is ranked fifth in the state for socio-economic disadvantage. The program targets disengaged and low attending students and is designed to capture the interest of these students.

The trailer also allows Adam and his students to travel to local and interstate shows to exhibit their cattle – they store their cattle-showing gear in the trailer and can camp onsite at country shows. Through these trips students are not only learning agricultural skills but also life skills such as learning to cook for each other, maintaining a clean camp and working in a successful team environment.