Students at Champagnat Catholic College Pagewood have had a ‘paddock to plate’ taste of farm life exploring a variety of careers and a rite of passage to being a man.
The Quest Program is a unique opportunity for students to experience country-based, experiential learning on a commercially operating farm in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales.
There’s an emphasis on vocational trade skills such a cooking, landscaping, carpentry, sheep husbandry, and cattle tending culminating in a live cattle auction.
Champagnat Leader of Trade Training, Dominic Ritchie, said the students also learned about examples of current agricultural farming practices being used today at Hermitage Farm Mittagong.
Quest allowed students to be involved in projects where they undertake ‘real-life tasks’ and authenticated what teachers and students have been doing in the classroom.
The students completed small projects such as replacing and re-building fences, landscaping and planting vegetables, drenching sheep, feeding cattle and cooking meals with fresh farm produce.
“The students had time for self-reflection, exam study enrichment and workplace journal writing,” said Mr Ritchie.
The Rite of Passage into Manhood unit looked at issues of social justice and social responsibility as responsible and resilient young men, the ability to form healthy relationships, to be positive about the future and make the best possible contribution to the world.
The Quest Program is for students doing the Applied Vocational Pathway in Year 11 and aims to provide a positive experience focusing on the particular needs of adolescent boys to be better managers of their own learning and to set realistic and demanding goals.
Mr Ritchie said the structure of the Quest Program engages students in one or two of their chosen vocational courses, and at Heritage Farm they were able to apply their knowledge and skills on a working property with the assistance of management and staff from the Marist Mittagong Centre.
Construction teacher Greg Angelou said the Quest Program allowed students to further develop their industry experience and complement their first week of work placement.
“Particularly learning to work as a team to get the job done within a tight timeframe,” said Mr Angelou.
Hospitality students prepared and cooked produce from the farm such as sausages, roast beef, beef stroganoff and seasonal vegetables.
Mr Ritchie said automotive students learned about diesel engines, changing oil, water and adding lubricants to a range of vehicles that would not be typically available to students such as quad bikes, tractors and a grape harvester.
- Dominic Ritchie