Maclean High School teacher Angela Hammond uses her raft of rural connections to expose her students to life in the bush.

Story John Dunn  Photo Ray Cameron

Each year Angela Hammond, an enterprising and land-loving teacher at Maclean High School in northern New South Wales, leads her Year 11 agricultural science students from their classroom onto a bus and heads inland – to the back of Bourke and its surrounds. It’s a trip that takes a week or so and covers 2500 kilometres, sometimes more, and involves an extensive itinerary that ranges from a cotton property and a shearing school to a holistic beef farm and discussions about conservation with a water-management expert, among a variety of other rural destinations.

“It’s a trip that puts into perspective most of the elements of the curriculum that I teach through the year,” Angela says. “It enables these youngsters to personally experience several aspects of country life and to be able to relate the theory of the lessons to what actually takes place in the real world of practical agriculture. The bonus is that they get to experience the bush, meet some amazing country characters and to realise there is a big and interesting world over the Great Dividing Range.”

It’s not uncommon for schools around the nation to give their students, who study agriculture in its various courses, the chance for hands-on opportunities. But not all do so in such a comprehensive way and with the leadership of a woman who brings a unique and totally appropriate background to a different way of approaching ag science tuition.

When it comes to the bush, Angela can, in many ways, point to having been there and done that through a series of practical and scientific experiences ranging from drover to farm hand, and researcher to agronomist. “Agriculture is such an all-encompassing field,” she says. “I am so keen to pass on my enthusiasm to young people so they can be aware of the huge possibilities in this industry – jobs like driving tractors, starting siphons, pest management or specialised nutrition programs for beef cattle or horse enterprises or in marketing and management.”

This story excerpt is from Issue #116

Outback Magazine: December/January 2018