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Rural learners . . . Members of Beaconsfield School's Rural Enrichment Group (back, from left) Leo Booth, Caleb Jones, Tom Devries, Hamish Caird (all 12), (front, from left) Natahlia Westgarth (11), Billy McKerrow (11), Ed Amalfitano (11), Natarn Godsall (12) and Lachy Donaldson (12), with school principal Hamish Brown. PHOTOS: CHRIS TOBIN

by Chris Tobin

A small school south of Timaru is making sure its pupils gain a broader perspective of rural life, even if most of them live on farms.

Beaconsfield School, which has a roll of 104 pupils, has started a Rural Enrichment Group, or “Reg” for short, which introduces them to all aspects of rural life.

“I think it’s important in this world of hectic change and everyone going flat out that we don’t forget the agricultural side of New Zealand and where we’ve come from,” principal Hamish Brown said.

The group of 11 pupils is being introduced to such things as animal husbandry, finances, buying and selling, drafting, pruning, helping with shearing and fixing a tractor.

Feeding time . . . Beaconsfield pupils Tom Devries (left) and Ed Amalfitano feed the school’s chickens: KFC, Tegel and Nando.

“We’ve done trips out of school and looked at dairying and grain production.

“Also we have sheep at the school. We’ve built fences and looked after them, as well as chickens.

“We sell the eggs out the front of the school. They are quite expensive eggs.”

Some of the children intended to be farmers but joining the group was completely voluntary and it was intended to be an introduction to the agricultural sector.

“It’s showing them how they can be involved in agriculture, whether farming or in banking, or in hundreds of other ways.”

Tom Devries said he joined the group to gain and share knowledge. He lived on a sheep and beef farm and intended to pursue farming as a career.

Caleb Jones said he would also go in for farming, as would Lachy Donaldson, who said he intended to follow his uncle into contracting.