RAS opens pupils' eyes

Countryman

Pupils at Australind, White Gum Valley and St Jude's Catholic primary schools were introduced to members of the highly successful Royal Agricultural Society's School Incursion Program last week.

They met Mr Showtime, a Jersey/Friesian-cross calf, Ted, a two-year-old crossbred sheep, Angus, an Australian kelpie, Noodles, an Angora goat and three hens named Henny, Penny and Gerty.

The 2012 program, headed by farmer Damian Foley on behalf of the RAS, is being rolled out to 16 schools over two terms.

On the menu for the youngsters is a feast of fresh facts about fruit, grains, dairy, fish, olive oil, vegetables and meat produced in WA.

Over the past two years the program has educated more than 10,000 children at 36 schools with a message about where our food comes from.

RAS president Hugh Harding said national research had shown children were often in the dark about the origin of food their families bought at supermarkets.

"One of the enduring benefits of the Perth Royal Show is that children learn where their food comes from, appreciate the work of farmers and realise that everybody benefits from our agricultural sector and other vital WA industries," Mr Harding said.

"We think this program is an important and highly relevant extension of many of the key areas of the Show."

In collaboration with a children's theatre company, the RAS developed a play incorporating the popular Inspector Pickles character.

The Thank a Farmer play depicts modern farming in WA and gives children an appreciation of the role of technology in agriculture.

The RAS also provides schools with the opportunity to participate in interactive class sessions with Farmer Damian.

Mr Harding said feedback from teachers had been positive with many declaring they were unaware of the sophisticated equipment now common at many farming operations.

"The use of satellite navigation, GPS tracking and remote control-operated machinery combined with leading agricultural practices ensure WA farmers are among the most advanced in the world," he said.

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