Open day draws a crowd to Cunderdin ag

Open day draws a crowd to Cunderdin ag

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WA College of Agriculture, Cunderdin, principal Sally Panizza (centre) with year 12 students Aimee Coumbe (left) and Campbell Lee.

WA College of Agriculture, Cunderdin, principal Sally Panizza (centre) with year 12 students Aimee Coumbe (left) and Campbell Lee.

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The day kicked off with the annual Poll Dorset Triple 'C' Ram Sale.

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DESPITE enrolments at the WA College of Agriculture, Cunderdin, being at capacity for 2021, the college was a hive of activity at its recent open day.

Year 11 and 12 students have the opportunity to combine farm, trades and classroom work at the school, with 99 per cent of its 133 students living on campus.

Kicking off with the annual Poll Dorset Triple 'C' Ram Sale, visitors were given the opportunity to tour the college's farm workshop, cattle yards, shearing shed, dormitories, piggery, butcher shop, classrooms, recreation and trades centres, while bus tours enabled guests to witness the full scale of the college's broadacre programs.

A fencing competition, where teams of five competed against each other to complete a 60 metre fence in five minutes, drew crowds as well as a shearing competition between students.

Guests were also treated to sausage making demonstrations, a sausage sizzle for lunch and a wool spinning display.

Given COVID restrictions, principal Sally Panizza said she was surprised by the large turn out this year.

"We weren't sure due to COVID whether our numbers would be down or not but it seems to have had the opposite effect," Ms Panizza said.

"The open day is about giving past, current and prospective students and their families insight into what day to day life is like at the college - so even though we're pretty full, we still have primary school students come to the open day to see what might be in store for them in a few years time."

Due to commence the role of the director of agriculture education in term four, Ms Panizza said the position had been reinstated due to the significant growth being experienced by WA's agricultural colleges.

"In that role I will be working across all of our ag colleges to really develop that career pathway for our students," Ms Panizza said.

"Speaking to the other ag colleges, they are really well subscribed and have waiting lists as well and the departments of education and agriculture are certainly pushing this as a career pathway for kids, so I think we all certainly have a bright future."

With four trades on offer at the college, Cunderdin students are given a certain amount of freedom in the projects they choose to design and build, with many of these displayed at the open day.

"There are woodwork projects from beds to TV cabinets to coffee tables and down in metal work they've made trailers and this year fire pits seem to be a popular choice as well," Ms Panizza said.

Specialising in broadacre cropping, Cunderdin is also the only college in WA that has a piggery and offers a Certificate III in Pork Production.

Year 12 students Aimee Coumbe and Campbell Lee said it had been a slow start returning to the college after the COVID-19 outbreak, but things had gotten easier as the year progressed.

"We were sent home for six weeks and had online schooling, so it felt a bit weird when we returned as there had been some changes to our boarding and we had to follow new social distancing protocols," Ms Coumbe said.

"But it was good to get back."

Growing up on a broadacre farm at Nungarin and studying a Certificate III in Agriculture, engineering and auto as her trade, Ms Coumbe said she would finish the year off as a grain handler at her local CBH bin and planned to study agricultural science.

Also growing up on a broadacre farm at Wongan Hills, Mr Lee said he wanted to be a qualified mechanic and auto electrician and hoped to get an apprenticeship once he finished school.

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