Agriculture's future bright
THE future of farming on the North Coast is in safe hands.
With concerns raised recently regarding the unavailability of agriculture as a subject to study at many Northern Rivers High Schools, the existence of the $1.97m EARTH (Environmental Agricultural and Rural Technology Hub) Centre at St Mary's High School in Casino should offer new hope.
Parents of Year 10 students had contacted The Northern Star recently concerned that their children would not be able to study agriculture in years 11 and 12 because of a lack of numbers.
Agriculture is a Category A subject that contributes to a student's ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank) and may be needed for some university courses.
The EARTH Centre was set up with funds from the Federal Government's Building the Education Revolution Scheme, and offers St Mary's students the opportunity to study both Primary Industry Studies and Agriculture.
Year 10 agriculture students Tom Gunther from Casino and Brenna Robertson from Bonalbo are from local beef farming families.
Tom is planning to study agronomy and rural sciences and is very interested in farming in subtropical regions.
"It all comes down to sustainability these days," Tom said.
"In the old days you were in your old rickety tractor with metal wheels compressing the soil, whereas these days you can be out there with a precision laser drilling down to sow crops more efficiently."
Brenna wants to be an agricultural adviser and help people on the land get the best out of their farms.
"I hope to have the same incredible work ethic that my parents have but with the latest technical knowledge," Brenna said.
When St Mary's principal Aaron Beach arrived at the school in 2009, rural studies had been run down.
"In the past two years since offering the new Agriculture and Primary Industries studies the school has seen 60 new enrolments," Mr Beach said.
"The vision for this centre is not only about traditional farming but also about what farming will look like in the second half of the 21st century."
EARTH co-ordinator Robert Dolman said that agriculture is the backbone of the area.
"I will feel I have done my job when these students come back to the region as agronomists and nutritionists," he said.
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