The Revitalisation of the St Joseph’s Agriculture Program
BY MEREDITH BLAIR
Before the agriculture program’s revival, many might not have known that St Joseph’s College Lochinvar had a farm.
“The school has had a farm and facilities for agriculture for a lot of years but the teacher who had been running the program retired and the farm effectively went to sleep,” teacher Simon Ramage told The Hunter River Times.
Due to student demand and his own farming background, Simon had a conversation with the College’s executive, leading to the revival of St Joseph’s previously dormant Agriculture program.
In 2020, the subject was reoffered to College students.
“There were a number of students that expressed interest in it, and we thought it would be a great opportunity, so we got a class together and started to build the farm back up,” Simon said.
Interest in the Agriculture subject among students has grown exponentially since the subject’s reintroduction, this year the College having two Year 9 classes, two Year 10 classes and both Year 11 and 12 Primary Industries classes.
With a variety of interests and aspirations, students have different reasons for choosing the subject.
“There are students that do the agriculture subject because they want to pursue a career in livestock or horticulture but there’s also other students that choose it just to have fun,” Simon said.
Year 11 Primary Industries Student Ellah Wilson chose the subject as she hopes to pursue a career in agriculture after school.
“I’d like a career in the agriculture industry and coming down to the farm helps me grow my skills. Starting fresh with the cattle and then at the end of the year competing with the cattle is really rewarding, as well as the opportunity of representing our school,” Ellah said.
Since it’s revival, the St Joseph’s farm has expanded to include Black Angus Cattle, a Speckle Park Bull, Boer Goats, Australorp chickens, grape vines, and vegetable gardens.
“Currently we’re expanding our cattle operations and developing a breeding program for our cattle and our goats for showing purposes. We’re also preparing for the Spring shows, for example at Singleton, as well as the Upper Hunter Beef Bonanza and hopefully with the work we’re putting in to developing our programs we’ll be able to earn a few more ribbons at the shows,” Simon said.
Simon also shared his wishes for the future of the agriculture program, hoping that the College can create an agriculture program that students enjoy.
“I hope we can try to develop a program where students are keen and enjoy coming down to the farm. Animals have got many benefits and when a student may be having a bad day, it is nice for them to come down here and relax.”