Sustainable food production has been front of mind for thousands of South Australian students thanks to an innovative education initiative.
Educating Kids About Agriculture (EKAA), hosted in SA by Primary Producers SA (PPSA), provided teachers and students with hands-on, on-farm or in-school experiences which explored livestock, cropping, horticulture, viticulture, forestry and sustainable water management, delivered by industry experts in the classroom and providing high-quality support resources to showcase agriculture.
PPSA Chair Professor Simon Maddocks said the program had been hugely successful in SA, achieving great reach across the State.
“The EKAA Program brought together three education teams to deliver complementary food and fibre education initiatives across the state,” he said.
“Primary industries, and how we get food from paddock to plate, is often misunderstood, with many students unaware of how research, science and innovation are used to produce food sustainably.
“EKAA has supported the teaching of food and fibre in schools, providing teachers with interactive classroom workshops where we bring in seeds, soil moisture probes, mini glasshouses, grain mills, microscopes and other technology so students can explore the science behind agriculture.”
EKAA was broken into three hubs. Hub One delivered a program called Heathy Plants Healthy People, which explored plant structure and adaptation, plant breeding, photosynthesis, pollination and the journey of plants, such as wheat, beans and peas, from paddock to plate.
Hub One also delivered the Science Investigation Awards, which is a state-wide competition for students focusing on experimental design and research. The awards engaged 700 students in Years 4, 5 and 6.
Hub Two involved popular children’s television and YouTube personality George the Farmer, with founder’s Simone Kain and Ben Hood developing a series of videos for YouTube, virtual reality experiences and curriculum-aligned resource books for teachers with each focusing on a specific food or fibre. The four musical paddock-to-plate videos were also acquired by ABC TV, now airing on ABC Education and ABC iView with a potential monthly audience of 15 million.
Hub Three delivered ‘Wickedly Water Efficient’, a science-based teaching program for Year 5 and 6 students that explores the journey of water across the landscape, the efficient use of water on farms to produce food and connected students to scientists, local farmers, food processing facilities and water infrastructure.
Each participating school also received a water use efficiency kit with a soil moisture probe, a range of seeds and growing resources, free downloadable power point presentations, student worksheets and activities, and live webinars with agricultural scientists and communicators. The teachers can offer this course year after year with minimal further investment.
All programs in the Educating Kids About Agriculture initiative were free of charge.
The project was delivered with support from the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment through funding from the Australian Government’s Educating Kids About Agriculture initiative. Program delivery partners are AU2100, Food and Fibre Education SA and George the Farmer.