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It was the first time Oamaru had been part of the professional development day, a nationwide initiative for teachers, careers advisers and transition educators.
GrowingNZ information manager Deborah Lynch and project co-ordinator Jess Van Niekerk travelled from Wellington to run the event, which had been co-ordinated in the region by North Otago Sustainable Land Management engagement officer Bridget McNally.
Miss Lynch said most of the 18 people who took part were from Oamaru and there was one each from Timaru and Milton.
The day was a chance to "showcase the local sector to the local teachers".
"Show them what’s actually available across the food and fibre sector for young people to come into. Show them there really are great opportunities, and that you don’t have to go far for them and connect them in with locals who are really passionate about the sector," she said.
Research showed teachers were one of the biggest influencers of students.
The group visited Topflite’s Rosedale Farm to learn from Peter Mitchell about arable farming and diversification in cropping; Altavady Group, where Kate and Adam Faulks shared their approach to farming and applying their corporate background to the land; and Mt Dasher Station, which provided a wet-weather venue for Jane and Blair Smith to speak about their Newhaven Perendale Sheep Genetics; and Growing Future Farmers area liaison manager Ping Horn and student Jake Faulkner shared information about that initiative.
One of the participants, Workbridge employee consultant Sandra Familton, who was also contracted under the Waitaki District Council’s Mayor’s Taskforce for Jobs programme, said, for her, the day was about learning how to steer school leavers in the direction of the farming, agriculture and horticulture sectors
"We want to [encourage] kids into those sorts of places, and the trades, of course," Ms Familton said.
She found that one of the key points was that attitude and resilience were key attributes sought by employers. They would "pick attitude over skills every time", she said.
During lunch, the group heard Jack Burgess, from forestry company Port Blakely, and Lisa O’Neill, of Milligan’s Food Group, talk about other career and pathway options from across the sector.