Getting a taste of science and careers
Dissecting a fanworm may not be everyone’s idea of a great day out, but it was a popular activity for secondary school students who took part in participating in two recent Find Your Future careers events.
Around 80 students from eight schools took part in Whanga¯rei and 40 from Te Kura Taumata o Panguru, Kaitaia Abundant Life, Northland College, Taipa Area School, Kaitaia College and Kerikeri High School in Kerikeri.
Both events were aimed specifically at attracting young people into careers within Northland’s professional primary industries.
A first for Northland, they were organised by the Northland Regional Council and its Enviroschools team, and the Whanga¯rei Agricultural & Pastoral Society, with support from the Ministry of Primary Industries, Niwa, Plant and Food Research, Rabobank, Seeka and Tahi Honey NZ. In addition to interactive workshops, the students had the opportunity to see professional primary industries in action with visits to Niwa or Tahi Honey in Whanga¯rei, and Seeka or Plant and Food Research in Kerikeri.
“Northland’s professional primary industries offer wellpaid, diverse and rewarding career opportunities, yet often struggle to fill positions,” regional council chairman Bill Shepherd told the students.
“These events can open your eyes to new opportunities, and may influence what you want to study when you leave school. You don’t have to leave Northland for good to get a highpaying career in the professional primary industries — you can do it right here.”
Primary industries professionals served as role models, sharing their career pathways and engaging the students through practical experiences including soil analysis, sediment sampling, microscopic examination and identification, GIS mapping, rural banking farm purchase calculations and quizzes.
In one room, young people in white coats tried their hand at fanworm dissection.
In another, a lively quiz created a keen sense of competition and gave students a better understanding of the work of MPI, while laboratory technicians from the orchard-tomarket company Seeka shared their career pathways and showed the students how to brix test for sweetness and identify plant pests through microscopic examination.
There was a chance to get dirty in the soil analysis sessions, where students dug soil samples for visual assessment and then tested them to determine soil health.
A&P president Murray Jagger told the students about 33,000 jobs would be available in New Zealand’s agrisector by 2025.
Northland College students enjoying a virtual reality tour of a kiwifruit orchard with scientist Peter McAtee, from Auckland’s Plant and Food Research Centre.