In early 2007 I started Managing a Rural Training Program for Silver Lining Foundation Limited. I had acquired over 30 years experience within the industry and I wanted that to be passed on so that it would continue on for endless generations.
I certainly recognized the need for younger participants to be involved within our projects and also to set a pathway for future employment opportunities as they became available.
I delivered a presentation about Silver Lining to the Annex Group at Murgon State High School, "who help struggling senior school children". This is where I met Corey.
Corey had started Grade 11 and was struggling; he had been involved with alcohol, drugs and seen a lot of domestic violence. He also was a witness to a murder and was involved with court cases on numerous occasions. He is only 16 years old.
We signed him up on a 12 month Training Package doing Conservation Land Management Cert II while he worked for us. He asked me a few questions about the job: Is there much school involved? "Nothing you won't handle Corey". Do I get to come everyday? "Every day except Holidays".
"My Nan is going to be so proud of me now". And so are we.
We trained him to operate a small Fiat Bulldozer which we use in Timber Harvesting; his eyes were reaching out, and one could tell just how proud he was to have learnt that one skill. He was capable of also driving a 4WD on the property.
One day his duties were to help the Nursery Manager with plant propagation. At lunch time we couldn't find Corey or the vehicle and some of the other guys said he had probably done a "runner" and stolen the vehicle. Most of these guys carry a mobile phone with them so I gave him a call.
"Hello Corey, where are you mate", he replied "Hello Dan, I just came up to the top of that ridge to make sure the bulldozer was all right".
It was his way of looking after equipment, and to actually see the machine was there after the week before, confirmed to him that it was ok. It's now his job to check that bulldozer is ok every Monday; this also gives him Log Hours for his Learners License which he is in the process of getting.
It is the motivation we get from stories like this that keeps us going. The hands-on work and encouragement we offer each other are the deepest roots we have here at " Bahun Jal Mono" (Place for People of Tomorrow)
Corey is one of those people of tomorrow.