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Fellowship for our man at Moogerah

BGS Old Boy and veteran Outdoor Education teacher Jon Hodges ’83 has been recognised by Outdoor Education Australia (OEA) for his services to the industry.

Hodges was made an OEA Fellow at the National Outdoor Education Conference, held in the Blue Mountains in September 2022.

The Fellowship is one of the highest honours in the industry and recognises “exemplary contribution above and beyond any paid professional role,” according to OEA.

The award came as “a total surprise,” Hodges said, noting that he is the first non-academic educator to receive the prestigious Fellowship.

“The other recipients have all lectured at universities or written academic papers in Outdoor Education, whereas I’m just an outdoor educator that’s been doing it for a long time,” he said.

A student at BGS from 1979 to 1983, Hodges’ career was inspired by his formative years at the School’s Outdoor Education Centre at Moogerah, also known as Pepperina Hill.

“Without a doubt, the highlight of my school career was coming out to Pepperina Hill or running onto a rugby field. They were the two things I enjoyed the most,” he said.

“After I left BGS, I did a teaching degree and then a Graduate Diploma in Outdoor Education.

“In 1991, I left my job as a PE teacher at Nanango State School to work at BGS with legendary Outdoor Ed teacher, Jim Johnson. That was my first year teaching Outdoor Education.”

Over the past three decades, Hodges has left and come back to BGS, but his love of the School and the outdoors has remained the same.

“The facilities have improved, the curriculum is sharper, and the program is more linked to school outcomes, but the nuts and bolts of Outdoor Education hasn’t changed,” he said.

“The nice thing now is I get phone calls from Old Boys that might’ve done a walk with me 20 years ago while they were at BGS.

“When they pass through, we catch up for a beer, and it's humbling to know they’ve still got a passion for the outdoors based on what they did here at Pepperina Hill.”

In recent years, Hodges has been the driving force behind the creation of the Indigenous Outdoor Education curriculum, providing BGS boys with an experience that is unique in the GPS system.

“BGS is fortunate to have an Indigenous component to our program which is endorsed by an Indigenous Elder, Uncle Paul Gordon,” Hodges said.

“In Indigenous culture, you need permission to tell stories – it’s not an intellectual right like it is in Western culture.  

“At Pepperina Hill, the local Ugarapul people have given permission for BGS boys to learn their stories.” 

Hodges said he was proud to receive the Fellowship and paid tribute to the School for its longstanding support for Outdoor Education. 

“As far as Outdoor Ed jobs go, Brisbane Grammar School is the cream of the crop – mainly because it's supported so well by the Senior Leadership Team and Headmaster Anthony Micallef. 

“I’m happy to maintain my job in the field, and that’s where I’d like to stay. The best thing about working in Outdoor Education is working with kids and being in the bush.”

Below: Jon Hodges receiving the Fellowship (second from left)

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