Catlins chil­dren shine in Agrikids

Clutha Leader - - PROSOUTH - CAROLYN DEVERSON

Catlins stu­dents with a prac­ti­cal bent are be­ing given a chance to shine, thanks to an NZ Young Farm­ers youth off­shoot.

Vet­eri­nar­ian and Catlins Area School par­ent An­nie Jack­son brought Young Farm­ers’ AgriKids pro­gramme to the school ear­lier this year with a view to of­fer­ing ‘‘some­thing a bit dif­fer­ent’’ for its stu­dents.

By pro­vid­ing fun and ed­u­ca­tional agri­cul­tural learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ences in a com­pet­i­tive club en­vi­ron­ment, AgriKids en­abled prac­ti­cal­ly­minded chil­dren to think about ru­ral ca­reer paths while hav­ing a chance to shine, Jack­son said.

‘‘If kids aren’t aca­demic or sport­ing they can some­times feel school has noth­ing for them. This is a chance for them to show they do have use­ful skills, and that the stuff they hate do­ing at school ac­tu­ally has prac­ti­cal ap­pli­ca­tions. For ex­am­ple, math­e­mat­i­cal cal­cu­la­tions for feed­ing and ar­eas are done on a daily ba­sis on a farm.’’

The AgriKids group was open to all, and typ­i­cally saw about 15 to 20 chil­dren of all ages vis­it­ing a dif­fer­ent Catlins farm ev­ery Fri­day fort­night after school.

Ac­tiv­i­ties to date had in­cluded shear­ing, lamb weigh­ing, hand­piece skills, gate mak­ing, pas­ture mea­sur­ing, milk­ing, ba­sic plumb­ing, pig farm­ing, feed cal­cu­la­tion, trac­tor facts, drone us­age, and ri­par­ian plant­ing, with many more in the pipeline, Jack­son said.

Health and safety was em­pha­sised through­out the ses­sions, with a dose of good, old-fash­ioned fun also on the timetable.

‘‘The sup­port of the com­mu­nity, par­ents and lo­cal farm­ers has been amaz­ing and the ideas for ac­tiv­i­ties come from them. The farm­ers are nat­u­ral teach­ers and th­ese kids re­ally re­spond to the hands-on learn­ing,’’ she said.

In Fe­bru­ary, for the first time, Catlins Area School had en­tered three teams in the AgriKids re­gional com­pe­ti­tion and one in next age­group club TeenAg’s com­pe­ti­tion.

Jack­son said she was keen to en­cour­age fur­ther par­tic­i­pa­tion from any in­ter­ested young peo­ple lo­cally.

‘‘The school has a Pet Day on Novem­ber 10, and we’re hop­ing to run a mock AgriKids com­pe­ti­tion which will al­low other kids to see what this is all about, and have a go with some of the ac­tiv­i­ties.

‘‘The sup­port we’ve seen is very pos­i­tive.’’

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