Future farmers: AgriFutures boosts Narrandera High School Angora Goat Program

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AgriFutures Australia has thrown its support behind a unique high school program in rural NSW that provides students with hands-on experience and education focused on goats.

The Narrandera High School Goat Program is an innovative, educational initiative designed to immerse students in the practicalities of Angora goat husbandry.

The Program offers a unique blend of hands-on learning and agricultural science, preparing students for potential careers in the goat fibre industry.

Originally initiated and funded by staff at the school, the Narrandera Goat Program provides students with exposure to various aspects of Angora goat care, including breeding, feeding, health management, fibre production, and marketing.

It aims to not only enhance the students’ academic experience but instil a deep understanding of sustainable agricultural practices and animal welfare principles.

Growing through partnership
Stephen Taylor, Manager, Levied & Emerging Industries – Goat Fibre Program, AgriFutures Australia, said after meeting the program’s pioneer and Narrandera High School teacher, Matt Shady, and his students at the 2023 Sydney Royal Easter Show (the Show), he knew he had to see how he could get the business involved and provide support.

“After meeting Matt and the team, we quickly learned that the Program is about more than just farming goats; it’s about teaching students valuable life skills,” Stephen said.

“They were learning teamwork, problem-solving, and leadership through real-world agricultural activities. And it was inspiring to see a teacher invest his own resources into a program that taught students about the opportunities in our critical industry.”

The partnership with AgriFutures ensures the program is well-resourced and has a lasting impact on students.

Stephen said AgriFutures will invest $15,000 over the next three years to support the participation of 10-15 students annually.

“Students will have the opportunity to enter and show 25 stud Angora goats in the Show across the course of the Program, gaining valuable experience in preparing and presenting goats for competition,” he said.

“The support from AgriFutures will help Narrandera High School in continuing to provide the high-quality learning experience and ensure that the students can compete at a national level, which is a fantastic opportunity for them to learn about Australian agriculture and gain practical skills.

“These experiences are invaluable for students’ considering careers in agriculture or further education in the field.

“By working to expose the students to the latest industry trends and technologies, we hope this collaboration opens doors to future employment opportunities and further education in the agriculture sector down the track, helping to secure the next generation of farmers.”

Pathway to agriculture
The Narrandera High School Goat Program aligns with AgriFutures’ Goat Fibre RD&E plan, which aims to attract new entrants into the commercial animal fibre production industry.

Stephen said the aim is for the Narrandera High School Goal Program to serve as a pilot program, demonstrating the potential to partner with schools and further engage students in agriculture, encouraging them to consider careers in the sector.

“Our goal is to inspire students and their families to see the potential in goat farming – whether that be students pursuing it as a career or encouraging their families to integrate goats into their existing agricultural practices,” Stephen said.

“The Narrandera High School Goat Program stands as a model for agricultural education, providing students with invaluable skills and experiences that will serve them well in their future.”

This pilot program, with opportunities for extension should it prove successful, aims to inspire and equip the next generation of agricultural professionals.

Find out more about the AgriFutures Goat Fibre Program

Key points

  • AgriFutures will invest $15,000 over the next three years to support the Narrandera High School Goat Program
  • The Program offers a unique blend of hands-on learning and agricultural science, preparing students for potential careers in the goat fibre industry
  • It aligns with AgriFutures’ Goat Fibre RD&E plan, which aims to attract new entrants into the commercial animal fibre production industry.

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