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Issued: 1 June 2017
Mid North Coast correctional officer Louise Bud isn't afraid to bury her hands in a pile of wriggling worms– and now she is encouraging school kids to do the same.
With the help of some female inmates, the Mid North Coast Correctional Centre's resident green thumb has been breeding worms for donation to local schools.
Ms Bud said the initiative had already introduced students from Aldavilla Primary School and Green Hill Public School to concepts of recycling and maintaining worm farms.
"During my time at Mid North Coast I've been able to restore the worm farms there, so it has been a really great experience to visit schools and pass that knowledge onto their environmental teams," Ms Bud said.
"Some of the kids can be quite fearful of handling the worms, but once they overcome that you can see how much they get out of it.
"For me it's not only about breaking down barriers and connecting with these kids, it's about teaching them something worthwhile and making a positive contribution to the community."
As part of the initiative, some of the centre's male inmates are designing and constructing a worm farm for Green Hill Public School out of materials donated by the Kempsey community.
The project will form part of a welding assessment for the inmates, who are gaining valuable trade skills by undertaking the welding course in custody.
Another inmate – an Aboriginal artist from the Kempsey area – will paint the worm farm to reflect the local culture and community.
The projects reflect the Mid North Coast's 'Our Centre Our Community' mantra, which focuses on recycling and building ties with the community.
Ms Bud will remain in regular contact with the schools, to encourage the development of the worm farms and further recycling projects.