AZRI: a great place to get an education

The Northern Territory is experiencing a shortage of young people with good agricultural and rural skills. The Pastoral Futures Program was developed through a partnership between the Department of Education, Indigenous Land Council, NTCA, CLC, NLC and DPIR  to address this shortage. One of the initiatives of the Pastoral Futures Program is the delivery of a Certificate I in Agrifood Operations and Certificate II in Rural Operations at the AZRI horticultural block.

Every school term, busloads of 15-18 year olds from Yirara and Centralian Colleges come to AZRI, where there is a classroom and a working farm for them to learn farming skills.

Danielle Brown, Course Coordinator from the Department of Education, has a passion for all things rural, having grown up in the rural area around Darwin and is a graduate of the rural course at Taminmin College at Humpty Doo. “I really love seeing these young people develop. I have a background with livestock and horses, so we do a fair bit of work around saddlery and stock work, but it’s also good to work with the horticulture team at AZRI to give the kids exposure to different aspects of farm life. What we are really teaching them is life skills, like how to behave in a work environment. I enjoyed hands-on activities when I was at school, it was the best way to learn, and so I try and take the same approach with these young students”.

Bevan Campbell, Silvagni Downs, Junior Reiff, Steven McMahon (Student support), Alvino Anderson, Norman Raggett, Ali Albutu (Student support), Alex Shannon, Sergio Downs, Danielle Brown (Trainer), Taciano Elkedra, Jeremiah Limerick, Lazarus Hall, Derek Thompson and Randall Norris.

(Above) Bevan Campbell, Silvagni Downs, Junior Reiff, Steven McMahon (Student support), Alvino Anderson, Norman Raggett, Ali Albutu (Student support), Alex Shannon, Sergio Downs, Danielle Brown (Trainer), Taciano Elkedra, Jeremiah Limerick, Lazarus Hall, Derek Thompson and Randall Norris.

AZRI has a working horticultural block growing grapes, figs, dates, olives, bush tomatoes, asparagus, lucerne and garlic. Senior Technical Officer for DPIF, Glen Oliver, involves the students in the day-to-day operation of the farm. “We get them pruning, fixing irrigation, brush cutting, fertilising crops, and basically anything that has to be done at the time. We set them up with all the equipment and make sure they can operate safely, and away they go. They enjoy the practical experience. I’ve noticed a few of the young people who have studied at AZRI, in paid employment”.

Students aged 15–18 years who want to get involved in the course should contact their school, as they must be enrolled at school as a prerequisite to the course.

Last updated: 13 September 2016