Eighty students from Timboon P-12 School visited Fonterra's Cobden factory last week, gaining a practical understanding of food production and the local dairy industry.
The visit was a part of the Timboon Agriculture Project (TAP), an initiative that aims to connect students with their local industries and communities. Fonterra's Farm Source team in southwest Victoria helped facilitate the visit for the Grade 5/6 class and have been a supporter of TAP for the last nine years.
Grade 5/6 from Timboon P-12 School on site at Fonterra's Cobden factory.
“TAP is a great initiative that we’re proud to get behind. It builds stronger connections between our factories and the communities we operate in. It also helps to extend educational experiences for the kids, keeping them engaged in their learning,” Shane said.
“Given the industry’s role and size in southwest Victoria, we want them to get excited about the future opportunities and jobs available to them in the region.”
“The other piece is educating them about local food production, and how products like Western Star butter end up on supermarket shelves and in their fridge at home,” he added.
The site tour was led by Fonterra Business Improvement Lead Andrew Westlake, who worked with the team at Cobden to put together a schedule of activities and sessions.
He said the itinerary included a look into off-farm milk collection, tours of production areas, and understanding how dairy products are processed, packaged, and distributed.
“The Western Star Room is always a highlight of the tour, it’s where we dive deeper into how we collect the milk, right through to how products are bottled and packaged to be sent off to the supermarket,” Andrew said.
“At the end of the day, the most important thing is the children have an appreciation for the scale of operations here in Cobden, and an understanding of the connection between local farmers’ milk and dairy products we send across the country and around the globe. It’s all happening right here,” he added.
Students also learnt about the rigorous safety and food quality processes in place at the site, ensuring only the highest-quality products are produced and travel through the supply chain. Before heading off, Fonterra gifted a tub of Western Star butter and a bottle of Western Star cream to take home, giving the students a chance to see and taste the final products they learnt about on their visit.
TAP is a partnership between Timboon P-12 School and the local industries and communities in southwest Victoria. For more than 10 years, TAP has initiated sharing of skills and knowledge from community members and businesses to enhance and connect the school curriculum with the agriculture industry around them.