Rural program wins national award

A well-established program that teaches students vital skills in beef cattle raising, judging and presenting has won Tumut High School and its partners $200,000 as the national winner in the NAB Schools First award for 2012.

The annual award recognises and rewards outstanding school-community partnerships.

Tumut High's Rural Youth Cattle Enrichment program (RYCE) started 17 years ago.  Together with its partners, Rising Sun Rural and Weemaru Murray Grey Stud, RYCE aimed to address issues of declining skilled rural labour and professional agricultural expertise, as well as an absence of rural career opportunities for local students.

"It's really exciting and rewarding to have won out of 780 submissions Australia-wide, said Tumut High's RYCE coordinator, Tony Butler.

"The prize money will be put back into the partnership to establish a Charolais cattle stud, lease land, purchase cattle equipment and commercial livestock for breeding."

Rural skills shortage

Mr Butler said the program had evolved in response to the city exodus by many rural students, as well as the rising job vacancies nationwide in the rural sector.

RYCE was offered as an elective for 23 students in Years 7 to 12 each Wednesday afternoon all year round. The program's partners were experienced in cattle husbandry with industry-level training skills and knowledge. They had vast experience in cattle selection, breeding, conditioning, marketing, showing and judging.

"The program teaches students about cattle knowledge and skills at industry level, but ultimately, has a huge influence on their confidence, school performance, self-esteem, teamwork and career planning. One key aspect, cattle judging, requires students to be proficient in public speaking, literacy and numeracy," Mr Butler said.

Over the years RYCE has had many other successes. Former students have gone on to study veterinary science, agricultural science, agronomy, horticulture and agribusiness and other graduates had become agriculture teachers.

View a short video of Tumut High School's award-winning program.

Agricultural Education Review

Education Minister Adrian Piccoli and the Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson announced earlier this year an independent review of agricultural education and training in NSW.

Emeritus Professor Jim Pratley from Charles Sturt University is leading the review, examining agricultural education and training in NSW schools, vocational education and training institutions and universities.

Photo by Bengar Films.

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