For students such as Peta Caspani, working in the outdoors is far more exciting than inside the walls of a classroom.
The Centralian Senior Secondary College student has joined around 20 others in an innovative program that will see them complete the internationally recognised Duke of Edinburgh’s (DoE) Bronze award and qualifications from Charles Darwin University.
The DoE is offered to young people between the ages of 14 and 25 and aims to help build confidence and skills tailored to virtually all areas of education.
The CDU Alice Springs campus and adjacent Centralian Senior Secondary College (CSSC) worked together to give the year 10 students an alternative education pathway tying in both a DoE and Certificate I in Conservation Land Management (CLM).
CSSC teacher Amanda Bruce, herself a DoE recipient, adopted the program after seeing similar successes at her previous employer Alice Springs High School.
“It’s especially valuable because the award involves taking an active role in the community and promoting an active lifestyle which just isn’t part of so many kids’ lives,” she said.
She then approached CDU Team Leader and CLM lecturer Jade Kudrenko, who saw the opportunities for students, the college and CDU.
“These students had a chance to complete their community services component by mixing with the various industry and not-for-profit groups that use our nursery, while gaining skills and helping us out,” she said.
This included contributing to CDU’s water-wise project, funded by the NT Government and co-operatively run with Greening Australia as a model for efficient residential water use.
While some students weren’t convinced of their future success in the garden, many said they enjoyed the physical aspects of outdoor work.
Year 10 CSSC student Peta Caspani said she worked out her future in the horticulture industry.
“Rock gardens,” she said simply.