THE cotton industry has planted the seed for future industry leaders, with a new cotton-based curriculum trialled by a number of Darling Downs schools this year.
Cotton Australia and the Darling Downs Cotton Growers Association have been working closely with the Gateway to Agribusiness schools in the area this year, introducing the industry- formulated cotton modules directly into Year 8 and 9 science curriculum.
Schools that have trialled the new modules this year include Downlands College, Dalby State High School and Pittsworth State High School.
Cotton Australia's Darling Downs regional manager Marie-Louise Offner said it was not only designed for rural students, but to also give others a greater understanding of cotton and its importance.
"This is a first for an agricultural commodity or industry to do this and the cotton industry is very excited that the program is being very well received by teachers and students," Mrs Offner said.
"Traditionally, farm tours for students have been the way. But teachers just don't have the time or resources to do that.
"As an industry, we saw this opportunity and thought how can we get into the school systems curriculum. Basically it opens people's minds to what cotton farming is about and the different employment options available, such as work with gene technology and sales and marketing."
The curriculum has been formulated for the Year 8 science reproduction unit, which includes looking at the pollination of flowers and dissecting bulbs.
At Dalby State High School, it has been introduced to Year 9 students through the school's agricultural science program.
Head of science Peter Doonan said it had been implemented into the school's programs well this year.
"The students get a good idea of how cotton is grown," Mr Doonan said.
"Everyone knows about how important it is in our lives so it's important for the students to know where all that comes from.
"They also learn about genetic modifications and also the insect pests and treatments."
This year students planted a 60m by 20m cotton crop, which will again be used by Year 12 students next year.
Mrs Offner said while it was suited to the Gateway to Agribusiness schools, particularly those with land for planting, it was a curriculum that could be implemented in a variety of institutions.
"I think the main advantage is students are not just learning about cotton in a classroom environment," Mrs Offner said.
"All schools have a large science component and this curriculum fits in really well."
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