Christopher is a 15-year-old young man who lives with his family on the family farm in Moodiarrup, 236kms south of Perth. He currently attends WA College of Agriculture in Harvey where he is undertaking a Certificate 2 in Agriculture. He hopes this study will give him a strong foundation of knowledge to help run his family’s farm when he graduates.
Christopher’s family, like so many in the farming community, has been badly affected by three years of drought followed by a flood and recent powerful winds which caused extensive damage to silo’s and machinery sheds. To add to the family’s struggles Christopher’s mother was nearly killed in a farming accident in 2012, resulting brain injuries left her extremely unwell and completely dependent on the family for over 6 months, making it necessary for Christopher to step up and take on many of the jobs his mother was unable to do, including helping with cooking, cleaning and caring for his 2 year old brother and providing his mother with medical and physical support as she suffered seizures daily and was bedridden most of the time. Then in 2015 Christopher’s father injured his arm making working difficult which saw Christopher having to continue to help support his family. The family was also taken advantage of by a ‘terrible man’ who leased some of their land but ended up stealing machinery, sheep and grain and not paying his rent.
Christopher has a neurological disorder that makes it difficult for him to understand non-verbal cues and learn. He has done extensive neuro therapy which he has found difficult, but now is more able to read common facial cues and more is emotionally responsive. As a result of his condition, his teachers need to ensure they give him verbal communication rather than non-verbal cues and give him more time to process information.
He was bullied at primary school because of numerous food allergies, anxieties and poor vision, his self-esteem was low. Engaging in a range of different therapies, for a number of years and starting at WA Agricultural College really helped Christopher to grow stronger and more confident as he had to learn how to overcome adversity. Through these experiences, Christopher feels he has learned about himself and how to achieve in spite of difficulties.
Christopher has excelled at school and through dedication and hard work was awarded the male shearing and wool handling award in 2016. He is the first year 10 in the history of the College to receive it, as well as the Yr 10 farm skills award.
“Thank you very much for awarding me the Upper Secondary YAL Members Rural Scholarship from JJ Boss Simons Trust. I am really happy, grateful and excited to be given this honour. Receiving this scholarship is really good because it means that I can put the money towards my school costs at College of Agriculture WA – Harvey and be able to do more of the extension skill certificates that can be costly. Being farmers, my family have had suffered a lot of financial difficulties due to having to endure a number of bad seasons and unstable markets. Being able to help my parents with the cost of my schooling makes me feel a lot less stressed. The skills and experiences that I will gain as a result of this scholarship, will help me to be a better, more knowledgeable person and further my journey towards reaching my full potential in my future farming career and supporting my rural community. I am keen to represent YAL.”