Ag Skills Day 2016



With the wet weather forecasts in mind, the Ag Skills Day was postponed from the 23rd June to  4th August for the first time. While this change did not suit some of our presenters, the majority were happy to reschedule. However, as luck would have it, some presenters had ailments and flooding creeks to hamper their efforts to make it to the day, bringing our workshop numbers from twenty five down to twenty one. At least the weather on the day was beautiful and we ended up with muddy feet, not completely drenched as we had been in the days leading up to this event.

Our regular cohort of Ag and Primary Industries students from Year 9 to Year 12 were joined by Year 8 from Coonabarabran, Years 9/10 from Gulargambone, Years 10/11 from Gilgandra, Years 7-11 from Baradine and Years 9/10/11 from Binnaway.

Small groups and a hands-on experience have been the aim of the day, although with workshop numbers tight, some groups were on the bigger size. This did not deter our wonderful presenters from delivering their expertise and ensuring the day provided immediate relevance to work studied in class and contributed to a greater appreciation of their place in agricultural industries.

Most of the presenters are from the local area, have attended Coonabarabran High, or are connected to it in some way.

Two new workshops were offered this year.  They were Agronomy run by Tim Reeks, who impressed the students with his knowledge on crops and pastures growing at the Ag Plot; and Electric Fencing run by Marty Wilkin.

Workshops such as Pipe Fittings was skillfully delivered by Sam Clifton; Fencing with George Hayley; Fire Safety run by our regular firefighters, Andrew Young and Joan Redfern; Welding with the dynamic duo of  Richard Fleming and Greg Larkin; Firearm Safety with Bruce Breckinridge, assisted by Year 11 student Jarod Moody; Feral Animals and Biosecurity with Graham Kelly and Jason Gavenlock; Jack Sullivan’s enthusiasm for Dung Beetles was infectious; Companion Animals with Mick Cox and new presenter, Sam Robinson; Steer Assessment was handled by our new recruit Mark Doyle, who also taught the students some low stress stock handling. To have people who are skilled in these practices brings the subject alive for the participating students and adds to the authenticity of their education

Ed Ford was back running his ever-popular Rope Making workshop, as was Chris Cormie with Horsemanship, always entertaining and leaving the students lucky enough to attend this workshop with some very useful, basic skills. Another new recruit, Wes Leedham, taught the very handy skill of Knot Tying. Local vets, Cecily Moore and Alex Haig ‘wowed’ the students with the murky world of Dystocia, while Danual Stewart took students through the steps of successful tractor operation where the focus was driving the tractor with an implement; Kate Davis and Dominic Shortis were the sheep experts of the day, not only assessing and mouthing sheep but lamb marking as well. Lisa Moody was back presenting the key points of Horse Care using her ever trusty steed as the model.  We appreciate the determination of the Ambulance Service to keep returning after their call outs, to run the very important Farm Safety workshop.

Kevin Bell could teach everything that is needed to know about horses’ feet but came as our expert on Sheep Dog Training. His skill was certainly on show when his dogs went to work rounding them up in the paddock!

What is necessary on such a beautiful winter’s day is great sustenance, and the morning tea prepared by the Hospitality class was sensational.  For their efforts we are sincerely thankful and appreciative to the students, Mrs Doyle, Mrs Adam and Mrs Wood.  Lunch was courtesy of Birds of a Feather – a warm and hearty local beef casserole, which kept the presenters happy and focused for the next three sessions.

Thank you to everyone involved in the day, through the donation of equipment or animals, and especially through the donation of time and expertise.  Thank you also to everyone who stayed late and on Thursday morning to help set up.

The school has always relied on the local community to make the day possible.  We are most grateful to all involved for being the backbone of our day.  The Year 11 Primary Industries class is also involved in the organization of the day and makes a valuable contribution to contacting potential presenters and ensuring any requirements for the running of their workshop are available to them.