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Bridging the urban-country divide

Farm Experience

As part of the Rabobank Farm Experience (FX) Program, ten city teenagers from Muirfield High School got a taste of ‘life on the land’, spending a week with five farming families in the Riverina

The FX Program is a direct initiative from the Rabobank Client Councils, groups of the bank’s farming clients around Australia who meet to discuss issues and implement ideas to contribute to the sustainability of rural communities.

Launched in 2014 to help bridge the ‘urban/rural divide’, the program gives city teenagers the opportunity to spend a week on-farm, living with a farming family and learning about farming land and food production.

Caitlin Pollitt and Kate Milne (pictured above with the Dudley Family) were two of the students who jumped at the chance to spend a week on a farm. Travelling over 700 kms to Bill and Simone Dudley’s 3000 hectare beef and cropping property.

The girls spent a week mustering cattle, helping out with the shearing, marking lambs, vaccinating cows, monitoring the wheat crop and a myriad of other day to day activities associated with running a farm.

Caitlin describes her experience by saying; “We couldn’t believe how ‘hands on’ we would get, from herding the cattle from the passenger side of the truck, to working the stock in the yards and helping with the tail docking. The experience definitely opened my eyes to how much advance planning farmers need to do, as what they do today will have a bearing on next year’s crop”.

Farm Host, Bill Dudley said the girls “really impressed him with how much they were willing to try and how involved they go in all facets of farm life”.

The Dudley’s got involved with the FX Program to challenge some of the perceptions held in the city and said his family had also learnt a lot from the two girls and how, despite their different backgrounds, they were not too dissimilar from his own children. “We wanted to show the sophistication of modern farming practices, and how we as young farmers, manage the complexities of running a farming business,” he said.

Rabobank hopes that by experiencing rural life, students will share their learnings and understandings of farming life with their families, as well as their schools and communities, and potentially take one step further by considering a career in agriculture.

The FX Program will run in South Australia in Kadina from the 12 to 18 October, and there are plans afoot for a program to be held in Narrogin later in the year.