Get­ting a taste of sci­ence and ca­reers

The Northland Age - - Local News -

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.

PIC­TURE / NRC

North­land Col­lege stu­dents en­joy­ing a vir­tual re­al­ity tour of a ki­wifruit or­chard with sci­en­tist Peter McA­tee, from Auck­land’s Plant and Food Re­search Cen­tre.

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