Project offers schoolchildren farm visits

Pupils from Liberton Christian School visit Preston and Tori Hope's sheep and beef farm at Deep...
Pupils from Liberton Christian School visit Preston and Tori Hope's sheep and beef farm at Deep Stream as part of an initiative to get 100 primary schools on to sheep and beef farms. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
Farming is not all about chasing sheep.

That was something Deep Stream farmer Preston Hope explained to a group of 29 city school pupils visiting his property yesterday.

Rather, there were a wealth of various career paths available in the rural sector, ranging from science to sales and marketing.

"There are a huge amount of opportunities," he said.

Pupils aged 11 to 13 from Liberton Christian School, in Dunedin, visited the Hope family's sheep and beef farm between Middlemarch and Outram.

It was the first South Island school to visit a farm as part of a national project putting pupils from 100 schools on to farms.

The aim of the joint project was to help pupils and teachers understand the career opportunities available in the agri-food sector.

It was funded by the Red Meat Profit Partnership and delivered by New Zealand Young Farmers.

Teacher Bronwyn Bennington said it was a chance for the children to see what they were learning in the classroom put into practice.

"It's a real life opportunity for urban kids to get the rural experience," she said.

The children spent time in the sheep and cattle yards, watching various farm tasks, and also saw a sheep dog demonstration.

James Cooper (11) had never been to a farm and did not know what to expect.

He was having fun - saying it was better than being in the classroom - and he thought the cows were very big, and the sheep were fat.

Mr Hope and his wife Tori were happy to "give something back to the community".

"It's a couple of hours out of our day to show 30 children a different aspect to life.

"Let's face it, we all eat every day. Where does it come from?" Mr Hope said.

New Zealand's red meat sector would need to find an extra 33,000 workers by 2025 to replace people who would retire or leave the industry.

Red Meat Profit Partnership project manager Di Falconer said the red meat sector was a viable sector full of "amazing opportunities."

"We want to get the industry on the radar of students and teachers, so they're aware of the opportunities."

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