Thursday, 07 December 2017 14:55

Farming needs to cultivate a positive image

Written by  Peter Burke
Anna Arrends. Anna Arrends.

Telling the real dairy story is crucial in being able to attract the next generation of farm staff, scientists and rural professionals, says DairyNZ consulting officer Anna Arrends.

Arrends gave Wellington secondary school teachers, attending the agri-teachers’ day out, insights into the range of career opportunities in dairy science and business.

The teachers also learnt about future farm systems and the range of skills that will be needed as the dairy sector maintains and increases productivity and profitability, while meeting animal welfare and environmental expectations.

This was the fifth such trip, aimed at giving teachers -- especially careers advisors -- better understanding of work prospects in farming. Running the event were Susan Stokes, DairyNZ and Rural News Group reporter Peter Burke. Costs were met by sponsors.

Anna Arrends ran a session on job opportunities in the dairy sector during the group’s visit to a dairy farm.

The group also visited a Landcorp sheep and beef farm and an orchard. During a lunchtime panel discussion young graduates told why they chose a career in agriculture.

The spark for Arrends getting into agriculture was a presentation at an open day at Massey University, though she eventually went to Lincoln University.

“I saw a slide show on how much a first-year agricultural degree student could earn, and the money was way bigger than any other degree; and I thought ‘that’s me’,” she told Rural News.

“Having graduated and now working for DairyNZ, the favourite thing about my job is inspiring farmers and working with other motivated, intelligent people such as rural professionals and my colleagues. But mainly it’s the farmers, and helping them to achieve a successful and sustainable business.”

Arrends says she enjoyed the day with the teachers and she’d like to see more such events and hopes the teachers will know more about the agri sector because of the day.

“I don’t think agriculture, as a career onfarm or being a rural professional, is being promoted enough and in the right ways in schools – especially urban schools. Days like this are really important to get positive news out there,” she says.

DairyNZ’s industry education facilitator, Susan Stokes, says the teachers responded wonderfully to what they experienced. The day opened their minds to the massive range of career options in the sector, “not only now, but also in the next 10, 20 or 30 years”.

“Teachers are great influencers. If they have a good perception and understand what our industry is about then they can have an influence in attracting the next generation of agricultural professionals.”


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