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FLEEC students tending vegetables at the C-Wise farm

Darryl Spargo who set up and ran the highly awarded FLEEC (Flexible Education and Engagement Centre) program out of the Pinjarra Senior High School has retired from full time teaching just prior to Christmas.

The program he ran involved real ‘hands on’ farming with one day per week spent at the C-Wise farm surrounding the compost production facility in Nambeelup east of Mandurah. The farm management work is handled under the FLEEC program where the students do all of the work in a Challenger Institute of Technology managed Certificate ll structured course of Agricultural Skills. Thirty to forty head of cattle and over 100 sheep graze the farm reducing the fire risk and providing funds to keep the program running on a self sustaining basis. Students get to handle all these animals as well as build fences, look after the conservation of wetlands, identify and fight weed infestations, observe and note migratory bird species, drive farm machinery as well as maintain farm equipment, drive off road vehicles, grow vegetables and basic cooking.

Last year the program was awarded a $30,000 prize under the National Australia Bank Schools First Awards. Just before Christmas word came through that the program had also won the Primezone award from the Primary Industries Education Foundation. As the only winning high school in WA it is another feather in the FLEEC cap. The object of Primezone is to introduce a number of educational initiatives into education curricula that have been proven in the field. Specifically they are looking at how schools can partner with industry to deliver real educational outcomes.

So the question arises - what is going to happen to FLEEC with Darryl’s retirement? When I posed the question to him he quietly said “don’t get too excited about the retirement word.” He is looking for a change of focus and some new challenges, however, he is going to continue in the employ of the Education Department on a one day per week basis. This will enable him to work with the FLEEC students out at the C-Wise farm.

It’s on the farm that things are about to get very interesting. Andy Gulliver one of the two proprietors of the company has plans to expand the educational opportunities employing Darryl’s expertise. Initially other schools in the area will be invited to engage with the FLEEC program and bring their students to the farm under Darryl’s tutelage. A new innovative engagement program called Drumbeat will be incorporated into the 'on site' program. More about this later. Andy envisages running first aid courses for local industry from Nambeelup also.

So it looks as though Darryl, who turns 60 this March, will have to keep squeezing time to fit in his favourite hobbies of lawn bowls and fishing for Herring and Tailor at the Dawesville Cut.