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Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Teaching of vital subject expands

Alan English is a Shepparton resident who taught agriculture — along with many other subjects — at North Technical School. Today he shares his experiences on teaching and speaks to today’s agriculture teacher Leigh Kildey from Goulburn Ovens Institute of TAFE.

ALAN ENGLISH December 6, 2012 10:18am

Leigh Kildey is commercial manager for agricultural education at Goulburn Ovens Institute of TAFE.


The subject of agriculture started at North Technical Junior School about five years before I arrived in 1965. Students came off farms from as far as Numurkah, Dookie and Tatura.

Classes started at Year 9, with about 20 to 25 students, but by Year 11 numbers decreased to five or six.

I developed my own curriculum.

Animals and their needs were taught in Year 9, soils and botany, together with pastures, were taught in Year 10.

In Year 11, genetics and breeding were among subjects taught. There were many excursions to field days and research stations.

Each year, a trip to Melbourne embraced agricultural industries as well as the Royal Melbourne Show.

Parents helped with cars for transport.

I made a point of visiting many farms from where students came, usually on a Saturday.

In class, I had a cabinet of monthly Department of Agriculture magazines, from which students could seek information for sets of questionnaires I gave them as assignments.

By the time I retired, my knowledge was becoming dated.

A few years later, TAFE took over the teaching of agriculture and, as we have seen, has grown in a magnificent way.

Today, GOTAFE is led by Leigh Kildey, commercial manager for agricultural education.

His work is extensive, touching areas not only in north-eastern Victoria, but also as far away as Gippsland and Geelong.

It involves skills in farming and horticulture and certificate and diploma courses are provided.

Across the state, about 200 trainees are engaged in various courses.

In the the Goulburn Valley, the principal course is horticulture, but agricultural courses are taught at Dhurringile Prison.

Errant farmers — here is your big opportunity. Mr Kildey’s work allies him with the University of Melbourne at Dookie and Charles Sturt University.

Some work is contracted out to veterinarians, agronomists and the Department of Primary Industries.

The work of agriculture under Mr Kildey aims to lift standards of practice to as many sectors as possible.

Mr Kildey said enthusiasm and interest for courses augured well for the state of Victorian agriculture.

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