Getting My Hands Dirty With UNE Discovery

Voyager team members (L-R) Sarita Perston, Andrea Jaggi, Will Smidt, Dr. Kieran Meaney, Dr. Jean Holley and author Imogen Semmler

I joined the UNE Discovery Voyager team earlier this year and I am loving my work as a science communicator. I am the facilitator on Science of Soils, Plants Poop and Pollinators, Smart Farming and I also help out with Creative Chemistry. This week we travelled west to Fairfax Public School at Maules Creek, St John’s in Baradine and we spent two days at Coonabarabran High School including a huge day at their Ag Skills gathering.

Getting up close in Plants, Poop and Pollinators
Getting up close in Plants, Poop and Pollinators

One of the highlights of the job for me is visiting small schools where there is a wonderful sense of comradery amongst the students. Fairfax Public School has nine students and it was lovely seeing the older students watching out and caring for the younger ones as they eat and play together. We brought them Smart Farming, Dynamic Bodies, Eating Energetics, Living Latin and Neuroscience โ€“ a great mix of STEAM activities across a range of disciplines.

A wonderful day at Fairfax Public, Maules Creek
A wonderful day at Fairfax Public, Maules Creek

The next day after our trip to St John’s at Baradine a few of us decided to check out the Warrumbungles, a short drive from our motel in Coonabarabran. With geologist Kieran in tow we had a great time scrambling up the Split Rock walking track, learning about the formation of the ranges and taking in the breathtaking views.

Andrea, Imogen, Sarita and Kieran checking out the Warrumbungles
Andrea, Imogen, Sarita and Kieran checking out the Warrumbungles
Amazing views across Warrumbungles National Park

Coonabarabran Ag Skills Day was a huge event involving a range of presenters and high school agriculture students from the region. Set within the amazing facilities of the Coonabarabran High School Ag plot (which includes cattle, pigs and garden beds) we rotated the students through half-hour skill sessions in Soils, Smart Farming and Insect Ecology. There were a range of other presenters from the region whose activities included livestock handling, crop health, regenerative agriculture and welding. This was a beneficial hands-on opportunity for high school students to learn about the kind of careers available in agriculture. A huge thanks must go to the tireless teachers from Coonabarabran High School for their fantastic efforts organising the event.

Road trips with team Voyager are always a lot of fun. We are a happy-going team of educators with streamlined skills at setting up, presenting and packing down with minimum fuss. We even smile when things donโ€™t go to planโ€ฆ like blowing a tire on our way home after a huge week of being on the road.

Smiling through breakdowns are part of the job description
Smiling through breakdowns are part of the job description

We made it home in the end a bit tired but grateful to have such a fun job taking science to kids across rural and regional communities.

– By Imogen Semmler, UNE Voyager member