Students visited a variety of agri-related businesses showing them the career opportunities available in the sector through the Rabobank FoodX programme

Experiencing Farming

by Ann van Engelen

Cameron Brewitt traded his school sleep-in to experience milking a dairy cow for the first time these past school holidays.

The 17-year-old Selwyn resident was one of 27 students who visited Lincoln University’s dairy farm as part of the Rabobank FoodX programme. Cameron is the head boy at St Thomas of Canterbury College and is planning on attending the open day at Lincoln University in July.

“We had to wake up quite early, but I really enjoyed it and thought it could be an interesting summer job while I am at university. It was an amazing experience. We got to stand next to the cows and put the milking clusters onto their teats,” said Cameron.

“Prior to the programme, I wasn’t really interested in agriculture or studying it at university, but I will now be giving it strong consideration. Rabobank FoodX has been such an eye-opening experience. We got to see all of the different jobs available in the agri-food sector, and many of them pay well.

“I really enjoy business and economics. I have been considering studying a commerce degree next year and met a number of people at Rabobank FoodX who have done agri-commerce degrees, which gives them an edge.

One was a Lincoln University graduate who works for dairy processor Synlait. It was great to pick his brains about my options.”

The four-day programme is a joint initiative between Rabobank, Lincoln University and NZ Young Farmers designed to promote careers in the primary industries to urban students. They visited a range of agri-businesses, including Synlait, Hellers, Gladfield Malt, Mt Peel Station and Rakaia Island, which milks 9,000 dairy cows.

For 16-year-old Anna Yates, it was also her first time in a milking shed.

“I got such a surprise. I have to admit I didn’t realise high-tech machines are used to milk cows, I genuinely thought they were still milked by hand,” she said.

“It was very different to what I was expecting and just goes to show how little I knew about agriculture. This has confirmed I want to study a bachelor of agribusiness and food marketing at Lincoln University. I would like to get into rural banking or advisory work.”

By 2025 the primary industries will need an extra 50,000 skilled workers.

“This initiative is another way to try to connect with urban students and encourage them to consider the range of exciting agri-related careers on offer,” said New Zealand Young Farmers’ David Highsted.

“All of these students are going to be walking billboards for the primary industries after this experience.

“It is a great way to help the agri-sector connect with their classmates and teachers.”