Prac­ti­cal way to grow knowl­edge

Marlborough Midweek - - FRONT PAGE - PAULA HUL­BURT

A hands-on ap­proach to learn­ing means keen stu­dents are honing their hor­ti­cul­ture skills in real-life sit­u­a­tions.

Nel­son Marl­bor­ough In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy (NMIT) stu­dents have been show­ing off their se­ca­teurs skills as they tackle prun­ing.

But rather than learn the ageold art in a class­room, the green­fin­gered bunch were let loose on a Blen­heim gar­den, un­der the watch­ful eye of tu­tor Don Cross.

The en­thu­si­as­tic level 3 hor­ti­cul­tural stu­dents are among the first to ex­pe­ri­ence the re­vamped course.

They spent last Satur­day bun­dled up against the el­e­ments as they pruned trees, shrubs, hedges and roses.

Cross says the new-look course is geared to im­merse stu­dents in sit­u­a­tions they may find them­selves in once they grad­u­ate.

‘‘With win­ter, for the gar­dener it means prun­ing time and for these stu­dents it’s an ideal op­por­tu­nity to prac­tice what they have cov­ered in the class­room.

‘‘This prac­ti­cal ap­proach is all part of NMIT’s ‘new look’ and the em­pha­sis is on do­ing,’’ he says.

Ev­ery as­pect of the course gives learn­ers a chance to ex­pe­ri­ence new skills, from fore­cast­ing the weather by study­ing cloud for­ma­tion to mak­ing ir­ri­ga­tion repairs.

Cross, who has a de­gree in Agri­cul­tural Sci­ence from Lincoln Uni­ver­sity, has spent more than 40 years work­ing in the in­dus­try.

‘‘I see my tu­tor­ing role as a com­mit­ment to ed­u­ca­tion and hor­ti­cul­ture. We need this level of ded­i­cated learn­ing to keep the in­dus­try up there on the world stage.’’

He says his ba­sic aim is to help stu­dents un­der­stand ‘‘the why be­hind the how, so they can make bet­ter choices with their hor­ti­cul­tural is­sues’’.

The free course takes one se­mes­ter to com­plete and pro­vides an un­der­stand­ing of ba­sic hor­ti­cul­ture.

NMIT hor­ti­cul­ture stu­dent Phil Hus­ton is one of many to get some hands-on prun­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

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