Rebuilding 5700km of fencing from Cassilis to Dunedoo and Coolah

MANILLA Central School’s Year 12 primary industries class joined the latest volunteers to help restore farms destroyed by February’s devastating bushfires.

The seven senior students were among public school volunteers working to rebuild the 5700km of fencing razed by the 55,000-hectare Sir Ivan blaze that stretched from Cassilis to Dunedoo and Coolah.

They teamed up with Blazeaid.

Manilla Central agriculture and primary industries teacher and head teacher wellbeing Justin Connors said while the students’ job was essentially to physically construct fences, their role in rebuilding hope was even more important.

“We worked in two teams,” Mr Connors said.

“One with a farmer who had all his internal and external fencing destroyed but miraculously saved his livestock and another who lost a huge amount of fencing and some livestock.

“Our teams worked hand in hand with their farmer, asking questions, making conversation and generally being there for them.

“But our students got more out of it than the feeling they were helping to restore a working farm.

“It was also a chance to practice their competencies from the (vocational education primary industries) course and use fencing materials and equipment they would not normally access.”

Outside working hours, they bonded with other Blazeaid volunteers and local farmers.

Several students secured opportunities ranging from mentoring and work experience to permanent employment next year.

A number of public schools have jumped in to lend a helping hand to fire-affected farmers through Blazeaid including Farrer Memorial Agricultural High, Macintyre High and Dunedoo Central.