Crop that! Hermidale wins Easter Show honour

A small school with big ideas has proven location is no barrier to innovation in education. Vivienne Jones reports.

Image: Winning smiles . . . Raechel McCarthy, Relieving Executive Director, Regional, Rural and Remote Education, on left; Duncan Kendall, Head of Education, Royal Agricultural Society of NSW; Skye Dedman and Bek Coddington from Hermidale Public School with their award

Student farmers from Hermidale Public School are proud winners of the inaugural Royal Easter Show Agricultural Innovation in Schools Award.

The Hermidale Future Farmers project saw the 10 students at the rural school in central NSW help farm an 85-hectare wheat crop in 2022, catching the attention of the Royal Agricultural Society.

“We are super excited to receive this award and to make a small contribution to agriculture education in our community,” principal Skye Dedman said.

“The project brought so many amazing opportunities for our students, and we are so proud of how their learning has expanded through this journey.”

Teacher Rebekah Coddington joined Mrs Dedman on day one of the Royal Easter Show to accept the award and said it was recognition of the hard work and all the learning the students had achieved through the year.

“We are very focused on opening up pathways for students to get into the agriculture sector,” she said.

Royal Agricultural Society of NSW Head of Education Duncan Kendall said the school’s achievement had inspired the award, which he hoped would encourage more schools to be innovative in agricultural education.

“The staff at Hermidale Public School made the curriculum come alive for their students,” he said.

More than 7,000 students from schools across the state visited the Royal Easter Show on its opening day. Many students and their teachers were on school excursions while some were checking out how their show entries had fared.

Minister for Education and Early Learning Prue Car met students and staff from Maclean High School and Narooma High School (both exhibiting cattle), the triumphant Hermidale Public School team, and Tarrawanna Public School students who entered fresh produce and tomato relish.

The Minister also called in to the Rural Student Café where she met vocational education and training students from Lightning Ridge Central School, Gundagai High School and Whitebridge High School cooking up a storm.

Image: Minister for Education and Early Learning Prue Car with Tarrawanna Public School staff Sonya Bogovac and Nicole Byrne and students, from left, Isabelle McQuiggin, Alexis Bujaroski and Sophie Baker

Hermidale’s Future Farmers Project

Hermidale Public School teacher Rebekah Coddington said the Future Farmers project raised awareness with students of the importance of agriculture to Australia and the world.

“We are very proud of how our students have taken on their new role as broadacre crop farmers and they are just great advocates for the future of the agriculture industry,” she said.

In the cropping immersion project, the students at Hermidale Public School, on Wongaibon Country, last year transformed the donated paddock behind the school into a thriving wheat crop, with the crop sale proceeds going towards excursions for the students.

The students have just returned home from a trip to the south coast where they were invited to visit Tanja Public School.

Principal Skye Dedman said the trip was a great example of how two communities 900 kilometres apart could come together with a shared educational interest.

“There was plenty of hands-on learning and the students at each school really came away with a greater understanding of how our environment around us can provide so much education,” she said.

“The students were on the beach touching shells and learning how crabs live; that is just first-hand learning that the Tanja students could share with our kids. And, of course, our students were sharing a lot about how to be crop farmers.”

Hermidale Public School has plans for another crop of successful learning activities this year.

“If it rains in the next couple of weeks we will put in some canola crops, and if not, we will look at another variety of wheat for this year,” Mrs Dedman said.

“We are just excited to see how our students can continue to learn on the land around us.”

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