Longerenong College leaders noted a growing sense of confidence in the future of the institution during major reunion celebrations at the weekend.
Business development officer Donna Winfield said the 130-year anniversary dinner, tours and activities provided the platform for a profound shift in atmosphere surrounding the college.
“This was quite obvious. In comparison with a reunion from 10 years ago, we’ve seen a shift in feeling from consolidation and survival to one of opportunity, progress and growth,” she said.
“You could sense a high degree of certainty and assurance about the college and the direction it was heading, and it was fantastic.”
Ms Winfield said a gala dinner, attended by more than 350 people at Wimmera Events Centre’s Alan Heard Pavilion, was a major highlight of weekend activities.
“The weekend was enormous. We had people coming from Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and most states of Australia,” she said.
“There were so many different people there – people who have spent lifetimes in a variety of careers, some who had their starts or were somehow involved with the college,” she said.
“We had everyone from agronomists to livestock people, others who worked in various scientific fields, professors, business managers and life-time workers from all facets of agriculture.
“It was just an amazing gathering of all sorts of people.
“Every person there in some way, shape or form was connected to Longerenong College.
“There was laughter and stories aplenty. It was really nice hearing about the diversity in careers as well as stories about the good days. It made the evening very special.”
Guest speakers at the dinner included former Member for Mallee Peter Fisher and Victorian Farmers Federation president David Jochinke, both former college students. One of the college’s first female students Marion Wilson, current student Bridget McKenzie and campus head John Goldsmith also spoke at the dinner.
Ms Winfield said the weekend also involved a variety of tours and displays.
“It was such a positive weekend and people were thrilled to hear of the progress of, and what the future held for the college since Skillinvest, then WorkCo, took over running the institution 13 years ago,” she said.
Longerenong College, despite its reputation as a leading hands-on training ground for the state’s agricultural industry, has had a history of peaks and troughs.
Its future was in serious doubt little more than a decade ago and now it is the base for a $3.6-million Demonstration of Agricultural Technology Applications – DATA – farm project and has opened its doors to international students.
In 1889 Longerenong had an enrolment of 39 students.
This year the college has 100 full-time students, 42 apprentices and 140 Vocational Education and Training in Schools students.
By DEAN LAWSON – The Weekly Advertiser