Local Mentors Visit Great Lakes College in Foster for the Local Schools for Local Industries Initiative

By Scott Keough, GLC Careers Advisor

Grant Flemming, Adam Turville, Walter Duber, Rachel Abberton and Terry Inkson.

Year 10 Students from Great Lakes College in the ‘Entrepreneurial Learning in Action Program’ were visited by a group of expert mentors from the local area.

The ‘Entrepreneurial Learning in Action Program’, which has been running at both the Forster and Tuncurry campuses in partnership with Startup Business International and NSW Government this year, asks students to identify real world problems that exist locally and that are in need of creative and innovative solutions. Students are required to come up with a business proposition which details their solution to this problem which they eventually have to ‘pitch’ as part of one of their Year 10 assessments.

Students are having this program delivered through the environmental change and management unit of the Geography syllabus and have come up with a range of focus areas surrounding issues of sustainability, pollution reduction and waste removal to name a few. Based on the student identified focus areas, we were able to engage local experts who willingly gave up their time to come in to school to listen to student’s ideas and to give advice based on their specialist knowledge and experience.

Such specialists included Terry Inkson, Strategic Weeds Biosecurity Officer for MidCoast Council, who worked with a group of students looking at protecting local sand dunes from invasive plant species. Grant Flemming from COG Electrics used his specialist knowledge of renewable energy to give advice to students looking at harnessing environmental resources for sustainable energy production including hydropower. We also had Adam Turville (Asset Planning Coordinator, MidCoast Council) and Rachel Abberton (Planning Engineer, MidCoast Council) who were able to help out student groups focusing on issues relating to water access and filtration in the local area. Finally, Walter Duber (owner of W&G Duber Construction and Design) who specialises in constructing earth friendly homes was able to advise students that were looking at eco-friendly house design and materials.

After taking all the advice from these mentors on board, our students then went away to finalise the presentation of their business pitches which were videoed for assessment purposes.

The next step was for these pitches to be sent to an external panel of judges who will decide who the overall winners would be, representing Great Lakes College in the state wide ‘Entrepreneurial Learning in Action’ competition.

We would like to thank everyone who gave up their time to come in to Great Lakes College to lend their valuable advice to the students. Enabling the students to see the link between what they are learning in the classroom and what is applied every day in the world of work has been invaluable and we cannot thank our mentors enough. We would also like to thank Robyn Brennan and Dennis Christensen from MidCoast Council who have supported us with the mentoring side of this program throughout.

The enthusiasm of the students from my group made it impossible for me to not be engaged. I was truly impressed with the ideas the team conceptualised and presented and believe their idea is a potential winner. The student’s ability to quickly understand suggestions, take them on board and tweak them into meaningful, useful data blew me away. I had a fantastic experience that left me feeling my efforts were a good investment of Council’s time.

Terry Inkson

Strategic Weeds Biosecurity Officer

MidCoast Council

I personally love encouraging young people to be passionate about their studies. I enjoyed working with the students and would have loved to get around to hear more ideas. Its priceless for students to have their ideas validated as having the potential to gain real world traction. Creative thinking and initiative continue to be the most desirable attribute for gaining employment in the dynamic business environment. ThEntrepreneurial program is a great initiative and also hopefully shows the kids that the majority of professionals will jump at the chance to help passionate groups or individuals succeed.

Grant Flemming

COG Electrics

Today reiterated to me how rewarding it is to share knowledge with others while at the same time being open to innovative ideas from our future leaders. Also something that Walter Duber said in his introduction has really stuck with me; Walter said “it is the responsibility of all of us to the leave the Earth in a better state than it was when we entered it – and that is what sustainability is all about”

If everyone could adopt that mind-set the world would be in a much better place.

I wish all of the team’s best of luck with their 3 minute video promoting their business idea.

Adam Turville

Asset Planning Co-ordinator

MidCoast Council

It’s super important work you are doing, it’s where cultural and generational change happens. I’d like to thank the students for sharing their projects with me.

They are doing some very important work and their ideas have the potential to make a lot of positive change towards a more sustainable planet.

It is inspiring to see their minds at work in a field that requires all of us to move together.

I wish them all the best and success with realising their ideas for this project in particular and in life in general.

Walter Duber

W&G Duber Design and Construction

My experience working as a mentor in this program was incredibly inspiring. I had the opportunity to work with two teams, with the enthusiasm of the students so infectious! I had the opportunity to listen to their ideas, talk about other areas for consideration, discuss potential risks which could impact the delivery of their project and look at the short, medium and long term goals of the project. All these considerations are skills that I use every day in my role as an engineer.  I attended Great Lakes College and I would have loved the opportunity to have this experience as part of my year 10. These students are making the most of this opportunity and I see great benefit in their exposure to industry and linking ideas of project management, science and engineering at this level of their education. I am looking forward to being involved in this program for many years to come!

Rachel Abberton

Planning Engineer

MidCoast Council