School farms more important than ever, says Jackie, AM

TWENTY years on and Tasmanian agricultural science teacher Jackie Brown says new opportunities in agricultural education keep emerging.

Head of the Jordan River Learning Federation (JRLF) school farm, Jackie Brown received an AM in last month’s Queen’s Birthday honours.

Agricultural science teacher Jacki Brown with students.

The school at Brighton runs farm visits for schools across Southern Tasmania, in addition to hosting it’s own students with show teams exhibiting livestock at many rural shows.

Jackie Brown took on the school farm back in 1992, and two decades on, believes that school farms are more important than ever.

She says the farm can be a vehicle that can deliver the entire school curriculum from science, maths, economics and business.

“I’ve just been at the Primary Industry Education Foundation conference, and [the Minister for Agriculture] Joe Ludwig announced that food and fibre are an essential part of the new Australian national curriculum.

So that’s really exciting for someone like me.

The subject itself and the things we are dong fit so well in the curriculum.”

About the JRLF Farm

The farm is a whole community based resource which raises awareness of sustainable land use practices, animal husbandry and enterprise from back yard to back paddock.

The farm is essentially for disadvantaged youth and operates by using agriculture as a catalyst for educational, social and recreational activities.

It’s inclusive of students who have been excluded from mainstream education and  provides vocational opportunities, job creation and work skills programs.

The farm is not just about teaching students about agriculture and animal husbandry – it is the result of teachers’ vision to help ‘at risk’ and disadvantaged teenagers find something they enjoy and are good it, allowing them to learn about responsibility, team work, communication, and to develop self-esteem and the confidence to follow their dreams – as many have done.

The farm’s operations are fully self-funded. Students, community members, Brighton Council, Friends of the Farm and businesses work together to raise funds to maintain this vital community service which provides a rare opportunity for these young people to develop many of the skills required to lead successful and happy lives.