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Fred the Fergie tractor celebrated in kids' farming book for students of tomorrow

Cherie von Hörchner, Wednesday December 27, 2017 - 11:01 EDT
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Wentworth Public School kids launch their first book 'Fred the Fergie' about the 1956 floods. - ABC

A unique local education program encourages school children to publish books about the environment for young students of the future.

The program is run by Petaurus Education Group educator Adrian Wells who believes the books will teach students about the importance of land management and heritage.

"I've been working with students for about 15 years now, right across the Murray-Darling Basin," Mr Wells said.

"Essentially, I'm trying to get them to understand how to look at and explore the issues of managing our land and water."

Mr Wells said the program did not merely focus on environmental issues but explored the "fine balancing act" between industry, irrigation, farming, and Aboriginal cultural heritage.

The best way for the children to learn, he said, was to have them go out into the field and conduct the research for themselves.

"It's a book writing program, particularly for primary school students, to encourage them to get out into the community and talk to people," Mr Wells said.

"To farmers, irrigators, land carers, Aboriginal elders — and find their views on managing land and water and then put it in to a book, which can then be used by other students as part of their book learning and book reading programs in schools."

Mr Wells said the children were encouraged to make their own decisions regarding which stories to tell and how, which made for a diverse selection of topics told in a variety of ways.

"For example, in Wentworth, the students wrote about the 1956 flood, but they wrote about it from a Ferguson tractor's point of view, and they were very articulate about how they did this," Mr Wells said.

"At Euston, they've done a book on the whole history of grape growing at Euston and how a lot of the fruit there now goes to China.

"And the students from Balranald Central School, they're slightly older, wanted to do a book on cultural heritage.

"So, they've written a book about footsteps — a track or a trail that runs from Mungo National Park to Yanga National Park, because there are a lot of Aboriginal students there and both of those parks are very important to their cultural heritage.

"They interviewed elders, they interviewed the people at the parks, and they put together this wonderful book about their interpretation of cultural heritage and why it's important for the town."

Buronga Public School captain 12-year-old Sky said it was fun researching and exploring a local poultry operation.

"We went on an excursion to Ron and Elaine's farm where they raise chooks and collect eggs.

"We asked lots of questions, such as 'How long have you been working on your farm?'"

Eleven-year-old Colby also had fun investigating the birds and said he enjoyed sharing his ideas.

"We all got into our groups and we each wrote what we thought would be good in the book."

For the authors themselves, the program has been an unforgettable adventure into the world of publishing.

"The best thing I loved about doing the book was all the teamwork," said 10-year-old Skylar from Wentworth Public School.

"It gave me an opportunity that I haven't really got before — to be able to write a story that goes to the National Libraries in Sydney."

For 10-year-old Jacob from Buronga Public School, the experience was hopefully the first in a long publishing career.

"When we got the copies back from the printer and looked at our book, we thought it was really good.

"I think I would really like to write another book."


© ABC 2018

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