DairyNZ board candidate Cole Groves says he is “living the dream” as a dairy farmer, milking just over 400 cows near Hinds in Mid-Canterbury.
So said secondary school teachers from the greater Wellington region who got a first-hand look at career opportunities in the agri sector for young people, during a tour organised annually by DairyNZ and Rural News Group.
This, the fourth tour, attracted 30 teachers and careers advisors in science, geography, digital, chemistry and economics, from schools in Wellington, Hutt Valley, Wairarapa, Manawatu and Horowhenua.
They spent the day in Wairarapa, visiting Massey University’s Riverside research farm, seeing a trial of rearing lambs on lucerne.
Professor Paul Kenyon, head of Massey’s Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences, explained Massey’s agricultural courses and the careers these can lead to.
And a lecturer, Dr Rene Corner-Thomas, outlined her career progression. She was one of eight young graduates who told the teachers why they chose careers in agriculture.
Also speaking were a rural banker, a fertiliser rep and an extension manager. The teachers found this a highlight – hearing of the range of careers and seeing the passion and obvious success of these young people.
Many were surprised at the high salaries paid to many ag graduates in their first jobs. And they were impressed that many graduates were offered jobs even before they left university.
The group also visited Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre and Urlar Wines, near Masterton.
On the bus to give commentary about the wider agri sector and careers were Massey University chancellor Chris Kelly and agribusiness consultant Lynette Wharfe.
Kelly says he doubts many secondary school teachers know of the wide range of career options in the agri sector. Many don’t know about the high-tech nature of the sector and the highly paid jobs on offer.
Kelly says teachers’ knowledge is improving, but off a very low base.