Catlins children shine in Agrikids
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.’’