From bush tucker plants, geese and chooks to a green house filled with lettuce to plots of land to regenerate soil – Mackay North State Highschool, looks like any farm in the MIW region.
However, the high school has started to pave the way for more innovative Agricultural studies to grow future industry skills.
Since its introduction to the curriculum in 2019, the subject is growing from strength to strength with more than 80 students from year 9 to 12 studying.
Recently students showcased their work in agriculture to Agrifutures Education and Program director Leigh Morgan and their modern farming methods, in particular their small aquaculture set up of raising red claw crayfish.
Agrifutures Australia proudly focuses on the future of Australian agriculture and promotes initiatives to attract capable people into careers in agriculture; build the capability of future rural leaders and support change makers and thought leadership.
Agrifutures Education and Program director Leigh Morgan said the students have an incredible system for raising red claw crayfish, so they understand how the multimillion – dollar aquaculture industry works.
Leigh said Agirfutures Australia supports schools through the Entrepreneurial Learning in Action program which encourages students to see the opportunities in running a business in agriculture.
“One of the things I love about ag students are that they see a problem and come up with an innovative solution.
“That’s the type of critical thinking that moves a business forward towards an environmentally sustainable future,” Ms Morgan said.
Mackay North State Highschool Agricultural Studies Teacher Jannie Jarret said the students study a wide variety of innovative and sustainable practices to grow crops in the region’s climate.
Jannie said they have recently applied for a Sustainable Table grant to get their mushroom farm up and running and hope to build on the foundations of a circular economy model.
“The idea with the mushrooms is to use shredded paper already produced by the school as a medium. Another student group has a project that shreds all the documents in the school, which currently goes to landfill. There is no end point for it for the paper, so my aim is to take that shredding and turn it into mushroom medium.
“The next step will be to grow the mushrooms on it and then use the mushroom compost on the paddock to regenerate the soil.”
Jannie has a passion for agriculture growing up on her family cane farm at Te Kowai, before studying Agricultural Science with honours at the University of Queensland.
Jannie said part of the role of Agricultural Studies was about getting students to think outside the box.
“At the moment everything is limited, our budgets and time, so that means we have to search out very economic and productive ways of doing things.
“We are trying to expose students to varies technologies that are used within the industry,” Jannie said.
Did you know that GW3 is home to the Agribusiness Futures Alliance project?
The purpose of the project is to develop a robust agribusiness sector for the future. The project’s focus is about connecting regional export capabilities, apply for funding that aligns with supply and value chain collaboration along with attraction and preservation strategies for the agricultural workforce.
Part of the Agribusiness Future Alliance Project will also focus on the adoption of technology and Agtech across the region to improve productivity and efficiency.