I thought this article would depart from that narrative and talk a little about something more positive for the future of our sector.
Here at North Otago Feds we offer a scholarship programme for kids leaving high school and heading to tertiary education.
This year was the first time I was lucky enough to get to be part of the process. Wow, was I blown away! What an amazing bunch heading out into the world with a passion for ag.
The finalists all came from different backgrounds and had a range of motivations for why they wanted to be involved in the sector.
We had the scientifically minded who were motivated to improve our fresh water quality, those whose goal was to be part of the emissions solution and then you had your typical farming lad who was wanting to extend his management skills before heading out on farm.
Whatever the path they are heading down one thing was clear as day — the sector is in amazing hands.
We are so lucky here in Oamaru with the amazing ag teachers in the three schools.
They inspire the kids to see all the different opportunities in the sector, not just the on-farm roles but the science-based roles, the rural professionals and all the support industries.
They promote it to all learning types — gone are the days where ag was just for the boys who didn’t really want to be in school.
I know from the experience of the winner of the scholarship and now my own daughter’s experience at Waitaki Girls’ High School that the teacher makes all the difference in how the girls see the subject.
When it is promoted to them in a positive light where they can really explore their strengths and build a career where they can not only make a difference to the future of New Zealand, but also enjoy it, it really hooks them in.
A large number of the year 9 girls are picking ag as their first choice for their elected subjects for year 10, a real tangible quantification of the changing attitude to agriculture among our kids.
We need to make sure we are supporting them every step of the way to make sure that the enthusiasm remains.
The only way we will rise to the challenges the next 50 years will bring will be to have plenty of bright, young, enthusiastic minds working away on solutions — both on farm and off.
When I look back on my experience with the school careers teacher 23 years ago when I was 14, telling her that I wanted to be a farmer and being told that that wasn’t possible and my only option was to marry one, I am so bloody grateful to the ag teachers of today who champion the sector.
Encouraging our young ones to pursue a career in ag and building the enthusiasm for positive change in our beloved sector. Bring on the next 50 years with these guys at the helm!