Westland District mayor Bruce Smith isn’t buying suggestions that productive farmland at Franz Josef should be abandoned to the flood-prone Waiho River.
Dairy farmer Leo Vollebregt, of Wairarapa, last week hosted on his farm 35 secondary school teachers from the Wellington region, including careers, science, commerce, maths and English teachers.
This was the fifth such annual trip, organised by DairyNZ’s Susan Stokes and Rural News Group journalist Peter Burke, plus sponsors. They take city teachers into the country and show them farming career opportunities for young people.
As well as visiting the dairy farm, the teachers were taken to a Landcorp sheep and beef farm and an orchard.
Speakers on the day were mostly young graduates from Massey and Lincoln universities and Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre.
Vollebregt says careers advisors are the key means of getting young people interested in farming.
“City people must get on a farm to understand the important opportunities there. You can’t do this by just sitting back in your office in an urban environment.”
Supporting this opinion is Wellington High School science teacher and careers advisor Tony Cains, who described the day as awesome.
Cairns says he now understands that farming requires not just agriculture and horticulture, but science, maths, communications and English.
Farming is a complex business, he now realises.
“Teachers like me didn’t understand the breadth of opportunities and range of careers; we now realise that we should be sending our top students, as well as kids who simply want to work the land, to make careers in the agri sector.”