Adam Shipp, our Indigenous Engagement and Training Officer
It was a traineeship on country that first sparked Adam Shipp, our Indigenous Engagement and Training Officer’s passion for plants. A passion that has been channelled into the ‘Kickstart my Career’ program which equips secondary school age Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students with skills in conservation and land management.
The program, which has been funded for four years through the ACT Government, includes a mix of cultural learning on country and practical skills.
“I really saw from my own development how much it benefitted me being out on country and learning, particularly the cultural side of things, and so I really worked to incorporate that element into the program,” says Adam.
“One day a week the students get to come out of school for the day and we do various things out on country like visiting sites of cultural significance or collecting seed, and then bringing those seeds back and propagating them in the nursery so they get to experience the full cycle. I think that variety is the real secret to the success of this project.”
“A lot of students, particularly Indigenous students, find a classroom setting difficult and being outside instead really helps.”
Taster days held at local schools give Year 5 and Year 6 students a feel for the course.
Adam credits his parents, a Wiradjuri father from the Dubbo region and Welsh mother, for inspiring his work.
“My parents have played a large role in my life and influence. And my father being a proud Wiradjuri man instilled in me a pride in who we are and our identity and culture.”
Adam is now looking at other ways to get younger people involved in learning about Aboriginal culture and heritage through being out on country and bushtucker classes for local schools.
“I work with preschool age kids to build their knowledge from a young age about Aboriginal culture and not only knowledge, but a bit of respect too.”
“These courses are important as they get young people involved in environmental practices and give them an understanding of why we need to do these things. They get to see how the environment we are living in has been impacted and how we need to be involved in a number of things to help restore it and get it back to better health.”
“We have been overwhelmed with the response from school’s wanting to learn how to create their own bushtucker gardens. We have some funding which enables us to supply plants to the schools but we currently don’t have funding to cover my time to visit the class and help them to create the garden. Some schools just can’t afford the fee for this part.”
“Our vision is to secure long-term funding to enable me to be able to go into these schools and showcase this kind of program.”
Adam teaching Merribyrnong preprimary school about Indigenous culture and bushtucker.
“It is really important not just for indigenous students but all students in Australia to learn about our culture. This is all of our history now. I think it will really help with that reconciling of the past and moving forward into the future. So I think it is really important to get our younger generation to start getting out on country and learning about this beautiful place and the significance to the first peoples of Australia.”
“I really see this as my path. To continue to learn, care for country but also to pass on knowledge and culture, and work with our younger people. That’s what I am passionate about and what I hope to be able to continue to do. “
To book your own bushtucker gardens workshop or if you are interested in providing funding for the program, contact Adam Shipp at Greening Australia on [email protected].