Jaycob Miller is a senior farm hand at Green Connect. Farm manager Cal Champagne writes about how they met through Warrawong high school’s permaculture garden and how he became a central part of Green Connect’s farm operations.

The success of outdoor education

In 2013, I spent a year working with students in Warrawong high school’s living classroom permaculture garden, which still runs right next door to Green Connect’s farm. It was there that I first met Jaycob Miller as a 14-year-old.

The living classroom program is centred around outdoor education, and learning through doing. It has been particularly successful at engaging student who don’t get on well with a classroom environment. Jaycob was one of these students who, for whatever reason, preferred to be outside with a tool in his hand than inside with a pen in his hand.

Although he was… let’s say a bit of a wild energy at that age, it always struck me how naturally competent he was on the tools. He picked things up quickly, and he could solve complex problems when he put his mind to it. He’s also incredibly trustworthy; what you see is what you get, and he will let you know what he thinks about a situation.

From casual to permanent work at Green Connect

Seven years on from we first met, Jaycob is now a central player in the weekly operations of Green Connect farm. He is one of our senior farm hands and our leading delivery driver. Even wondered how the fruit the we buy in from the organic markets gets to us? Jaycob heads up to Sydney at 3am on a Wednesday morning to pick it up. Then on Thursday, he drops off 100 plus boxes throughout the Illawarra. He also leads the ground maintenance at the farm and mentors some of our youth work experience participants.

It hasn’t been an easy road for Jaycob. He’s worked his way up from work experience, to junior casual work, to permanent employment. It’s awesome having these living examples of hard work that has paid off to help inspire young people who are joining our programs. It’s also nice to see experiences young people have had in the Warrawong high school’s living classroom leading to positive outcomes throughout our community.