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Organisers of the Yarriambiack COMMUNIversiTY have hailed it a huge success with more than 200 people from throughout the Wimmera Mallee attending various classes.

The COMMUNIversiTY at Rural Northwest Health’s Warracknabeal campus is believed to be the world’s first pop-up university. The campus provided three ‘classrooms’ where 16 professors, associate professors and lecturers took over a dozen classes on a variety of topics.

La Trobe University’s Professor Jane Farmer, who was the mastermind behind the pop-up university, said she was thrilled at the response and the instant feedback from those who attended.

“The professors and lecturers loved having the opportunity to present to people they wouldn’t normally teach and they felt like everyone was enmeshed in their particular subject,” Prof Farmer said.

“One of the professors told me ‘it was great to be speaking to people who weren’t constantly checking their smartphones’ so the enthusiasm was certainly there,” she said.

“And people were coming up to me after the classes saying how much they enjoyed the opportunity.”

RNH CEO Catherine Morley said she was delighted with the level of attendance and interest.

“It was fantastic,” Ms Morley said.

“We had people of all ages, farmers young and old, people from all corners of the community,” she said.

“There were people who only came for one or two classes and there were others who attended every class over the two days but it worked out that more than 200 people attended the combined sessions.

“They came from all over the region including from West Wimmera and Hindmarsh shires and they were really engaged in the sessions.”

Ms Morley said there was already discussion around having another Yarriambiack COMMUNIversiTY next year as possibly an annual event.

“We had 20-40 people in almost every class and everyone was very happy so we have already started the discussion of running it again,” she said.

“We certainly had the right topics, particularly the interactive microbiology sessions, the Australian literature and poetry and the history lectures on the Mallee and on Gallipoli.

“There was also great discussion on the best approach to improving our communities and there was plenty gained from that.”

Caption: checking the microbes from their hands are from left, Kaniva farmer Stephen Hobbs, La Trobe University presenters Lucie Semenec and Jen Wiltshire and RNH board member Carolyn Morcom while Dr Ashley Franks, right, prepares another example.

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