THIRTY-ONE year 9 students from Mooroopna Secondary College were given the opportunity to enjoy the camping lifestyle last week, when they heading out to Dookie to experience many aspects that encompass agriculture in the local university setting.
The project was run as part of a collaboration between the Lighthouse Project, the Better Together Alliance and the University of Melbourne Dookie Campus.
The students started their camp with what became a highlight, sensory and animal science exercise, during which they learned how the senses play an important role in the detection of grapevine and other agricultural pests and diseases.
Student, Charli Montgomeryloved that lecturer, Sonja Needs brought her dog to demonstrate just how clever dogs are at detecting aromas that we couldn’t even smell.
Day two focused on working with sheep. During this time the students got their hands dirty and learnt how to handle sheep, assessing sheep health by condition scoring them, checking their teeth and weighing them. They watched sheep being shorn, learnt about different sheep breeds and fleece types where they had to rank fleece types for their softness, length and the quality.
A walk up Mt Major provided a stunning backdrop to learn about soil science and assessing which soil type would be suitable for a range of agricultural purposes.
Day three concentrated on all things dairy with an introduction to the dairy industry and the role it plays in the region.
Student, Shakira Hinck said, “It was good to get out and walk around the dairy farm before watching the cows being milked in the robotic dairy.”
Milk samples were collected for the laboratory activities to measure the mastitis count, where a low count is ideal because it means better quality milk and protein count. Milk is measured on protein content and farmers are paid on higher protein content. Students were also given the opportunity to make cheese.
The students also got to experience life away from home with some having never been away from their family. They enjoyed great meals, learnt about food wastage after enjoying a box of odd shaped apples that were just as tasty as the ones from the supermarket and got to experience the majestic surrounds of the Dookie Campus.