Providing a range of fantastic rural experiences for city young people was central to a partnership developed between three rural schools and five city schools.
St Josephs Primary School in Kerang, along with their cluster schools, hosted 25 Year 5 students from five city schools for a week of rural experiences as part of the City 5 schools community outreach program to support country schools in the drought and supported by Teaching Farms.
The partnership provided a range of activities that included attending a small rural school, being involved in a range of farming activities and enjoying “good old fashioned country hospitality and food”.
They arrived at St Joseph’s after a five hour trip to be greeted with a delicious country style lunch. Over the subsequent days these young people from the suburbs of Melbourne were involved in breadth of activities that introduced them to life in the country.
They began there visit with a tour of the Ibis Rookery which is the largest in the Southern hemisphere.
They spent time on a local dairy farm owned by the Hope family, where they fed the calves, rode the horse, watched the cows being milked on a huge rotary dairy, fed the chooks, learnt how to crack a stock whip and one of the many highlights was drinking milk directly from the vat!!
A visit to the Keating’s sheep farm was also on the tour where the group we involved in sheep shearing. Also the family’s pet dog had a litter of puppies that many of the children wanted to take back to Melbourne with them.
In addition to the farming activities students from all schools were involved in a range of activities that included bush art, making a raft that floats, tent pitching, making damper and a scavenger hunt. A visit to the historical Mt Hope Homestead introduced the students to how people lived many years – one of the original lodgings in the Kerang area.
The 25 students also attended the local cluster schools to get a feel for what it was like to learn within a small rural school.
The students (and teachers) returned to their Melbourne schools after a tiring week of activities and learning, as well as many stories to tell their friends and families.
As one visiting principal reflected:
“It was a wonderful experience for the children, as well as the teachers, and they all took many memories and photos that will stay with them for many years”.
For more information on the Teaching Farms program click on the link: www.teachingfarms.com.au