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Josh with employer, Gerard Jochems
Working on a farm at a friend’s grandparents’ place was Josh’s introduction to farming and enough to sow the seed of agriculture as a career option.
“Our family moved to New Zealand from Holland about five years ago so I had my high school years here but I had no background in farming and didn’t know what it involves. I know I’m an outdoor person and wouldn’t last in any office job, so when I was looking at my options before leaving school, I decided to give agriculture a go.”
“The NorthTec course was great because we went out and actually did stuff on farms plus we did the paperwork to learn about diseases, soils, innovations, pasture species and stock management. It gave me basic skills and an overall awareness. I’ve just finished the agriculture level three and I’m doing the VMI course (Vehicles Machinery and Infrastructure) while I’m working here on the farm.”
Josh got his job on Gerard and Brigette Jochems’ beef farm near Waimate North when Gerard approached NorthTec asking if they had anyone with energy and enthusiasm. “I stepped up because I was keen and I’m loving it. I work with Gerard five days a week, and so far I’m learning to shift stock, check on the calves, feed out, do fencing, and weed with the chainsaw. I love that there’s lots of diversity in a day.”
“No matter how good my base knowledge from the course is, there’s nothing like the doing stuff on the job to really learn things. My biggest challenge is improving my stock sense because I didn’t grow up around animals, so I’m learning lots with that every day.”
“As farm side-lines we’ve also got a possum fur plucker, and Gerard has a small horse (Fudge) that pulls a cart. There’s plenty to keep things really interesting and I’m living right in the moment here. Longer term Gerard thinks I’d have more future in dairying but I’m happy here for now.”
“I like helping kids learn and we’ve always had young fellas here helping in weekends and holidays to give them a feel for farm life and a bit of a start if it’s something they want to do. We have a 500-acre beef farm so we can always use some help.”
“I rang and asked NorthTec if they had someone keen who was finishing their agriculture training and they said they had two guys. Josh‘s enthusiasm stood out, so we had an interview and a two-week trial and now he’s here. He tries 100 per cent and he knows about pasture, break-feeding, tech systems, fertilisers, animal health and weed control. He’s got lots to learn about stock handling and he makes mistakes along the way, but if he keeps up the effort he’ll become a good farmer.”
“I’ve taken on more stock and given myself more work to take Josh on but I like giving keen young guys a start. Because I need to work with him while he learns, it pulls me away from other work and costs me, so even though he’s on a fairly low wage, I think trainees on farms should be further subsidised.”
“I really like Josh’s enthusiasm and am encouraging him to think about a future in dairying where there’s more money and more infrastructure and he could work his way up. But he seems happy here for now, so we’ll see what happens.”
There’s a great team spirit here so we all bring our experiences and learn from each other.
“I wanted to pick up from when I was farming a few years ago, to learn more and update myself on the paperwork. I moved up here from Auckland where I was doing furniture removal and landscaping but my wife now works on a dairy farm so the motivation is there.”
“Experiencing everything on the course is exciting for me. I love both the theory and practical but writing my ideas on paper is a challenge. The tutor and my partner support me in that and there’s a great team spirit here so we all bring our experiences and learn from each other.”
“I want to be a farm manager and maybe add options like AI or other technician contracts to broaden the mix. I also want to pass on what I’ve learned to the young generation. Passing it on is a strong driver for me.”
“I knew I’d like this course but I like it even more than I thought. I kept getting into trouble at school so...
“I knew I’d like this course but I like it even more than I thought. I kept getting into trouble at school so eventually Mum decided to pull me out and I moved home to the farm and started studying sports but it wasn’t me. We lived on a farm and I liked it, but I didn’t know anything about it so when I saw a brochure on this course I signed up.”
“The best part of the course so far is moving the animals, learning to ride the quad bike, fixing fences, milking, and learning about stock rotation and how much to feed them. We learn by actually doing it, plus we have 1 theory day a week.”
“We also learn from the other students when we work together, and we’re all gaining confidence and experience. I’m not sure what I want to do when I finish the course but I might work in dairy farming. I’ve learnt to give things a go and at NorthTec they’ll help you get through.”
This feels like real learning on the job. We’re getting work experience here on the farm as we learn new things and I...
“This feels like real learning on the job. We’re getting work experience here on the farm as we learn new things and I love everything about it – especially that I get to have my own working dog.”
Connie didn’t grow up on a farm but was surrounded by the rural world and has always had a passion for animals, the land and outdoors. “I won top agriculture student from Vocational Primary Industries at school last year and wanted to study further. NorthTec is close to home and it feels a privilege to be on this farm and working stock. Getting my dog, Kim, was an added bonus of being here at the right time.”
“I’m amazed at how quickly I pick things up and how natural the farm feels for me. Measuring chemicals for drenching or doing the maths for dry matter testing is a stretch for me but the tutor makes it relevant and achievable. He’s really amazing, approachable and knowledgeable.”
“I now have a plan for my life, have started on it, and know what I’m doing. I want to go sheep and beef farming after the course because I love stock handling and stock raising but I’ll work on a dairy farm if I can’t find that. My dream is to own or manage a sheep and beef farm with a team of dogs.”
“If you can’t find what you want to do in life, take a step, give something a go and see what happens. Things unfold.”
I like learning for an applied and practical purpose so this really suits me, and the farm is fairly isolated so I...
“My name is on the farm mortgage and the cheque-book, so I decided it was time to be more pro-active with my involvement. I was already doing the budgets and the paperwork for the farm but it will mean more to me if I also know about the production half of the business. Last year I met a lady who was doing a human resources paper here and it interested me. The course isn’t just about the environment, it’s everything to do with running the farm.”
“My biggest challenge so far was the Resource Management module which was the first paper. It was a lot of detail to do with the environment, being compliant, the land and sustainability, and I wasn’t expecting such intensity. But I’ve now got a better understanding of what my husband is already implementing and why.”
“I enjoy the human resources paper more, and realise we’re doing OK on the farm but that the processes are incomplete. This course has given me direction in what we need to change and how to make those changes.”
“I like learning for an applied and practical purpose so this really suits me, and the farm is fairly isolated so I enjoy being with people is a similar farming situation. My husband and I are in partnership on what was his family farm just 20 minutes from NorthTec so I can be there for my farm commitments morning and evening and come here in between. The tutors all have a business background in farming, and our class is a great group of girls all with the admin role on our farms, plus we’re hands-on back up if needed.”
“I hope that what I learn on this course will make me more efficient. The farm is a business and we have to treat it as such so fortunately I’m digitally savvy. I realise now that there’s probably a 40 hour week in simply doing the admin of running the farm. We have two teenage boys so by completing this study I’m also leading by example.”
“My dream is to have some time off. My son wants to take over the farm so by then, we’ll have some processes in place that make that transition possible and easy to do.”
Some of our classmates are experienced and some are totally new to farming but we’re all learning at our own speed.
“I’ve come on board this course because my mother doesn't want me to own a tractor until I know how to drive it safely, plus I want to start working on a dairy farm and want to be able to drive the machinery there safely as well. I also want to upskill in farming in general. I grew up on a sheep and beef farm owned by my grandfather and I’m ready to learn more now than just the labouring side of it.”
“I know and like NorthTec because I’ve previously done a horticulture course here to figure out soils. The best part of this course is mucking around on the machinery, moving trucks and mowing out in the paddock. I like using the old equipment because it’s harder to use and that gear is still out there on some farms.”
“Fencing is also part of our course and I’m surprised to learn that I’m not as good at it as I thought I was. I had done some with my grandfather and he had it sussed, but I’m now learning how much I didn't know.”
“Some of our classmates are experienced and some are totally new to farming but we’re all learning at our own speed. I like to watch the tutor use the machinery like the tractor, the 125 motorbike and the quad truck, then when he trusts that we’ve got it, we get to have a go.”
“When I finish here, if I can get a job on a dairy farm I’ll take it, or if not, I’ll do the next course here which is on cattle and pastures. My long-term dream is to travel and apply my skills. Eventually, I’ll come back home, get a piece of land and farm it the way I want to, which is as green as possible.”
My classmates are all adult students and we’re here because we want to be, so it’s a great learning environment, and...
“I had a change of lifestyle after being a caregiver for a long time, so I was looking at available courses and this one appealed. You can study from books and see things online but with bees you actually have to see and do in order to know.”
“This course maintains your interest all the way through as we learn to look after the bees and the hives. We learned about the history of all the different types of hives and that to be commercial they need moveable parts. Then there are further courses to explore things like value-added products, how to run a beekeeping business and queen rearing.”
“The biggest challenge for me was the first time I walked through a swarm of bees – even with all the gear on. It’s not normal to walk through 5000 bees, but this is what we signed up for. We have to learn to get stung and continue to do the job. That’s beekeeping.”
“My classmates are all adult students and we’re here because we want to be, so it’s a great learning environment, and the tutor has been in the industry so can give us feedback on both commercial and domestic situations. It’s great that he is open to us trying something a bit outside the curriculum in order to learn more about the world of bees. He also knows what works for this region, which differs in timing from even the Hokianga.”
“I’d like to have my own hives and honey, but whether I decide to do it on a small scale for barter, or commercially, I’ll have to get a job to earn the money to build up my hive numbers. I’m also keen to do some of the follow-up bee-related courses. Bees are so fascinating that when you become interested in them, you get more and more interested.”
Being outdoors with the animals and learning new things are the best parts of the course for me. The study needs some...
“I left school and was looking online for agriculture training because it was one of my interests. When I saw this course I wanted to give it a go so I came to the interview and started the next week. I commute from Kerikeri to Kaikohe four days a week and I love it.”
“Being outdoors with the animals and learning new things are the best parts of the course for me. The study needs some self-discipline but I’ve made it a priority. The tutors make sure we get our work done and are with us 100 per cent of the way.”
“It’s good for me to get new experiences. I’ve met new people, I’ve milked cows for the first time and I’ve even conquered my fear of bulls. I’m a hands-on person and being outside gives me a feeling of being free.”
“Completing this course will help me achieve bigger things. It’s a really good knowledge foundation and from here I hope to move on to Telford for full-time study in sheep and beef farming. I’d like to run my own farm, make money and do things for people.”
This course is helping push me out of my comfort zone to try new stuff and then I find out it’s easy.
“I’ve re-found my love of learning here. I always did well at school until year 12 when the system changed and I found the class pace too slow and the environment too noisy, so I turned off learning. I did the basics to pass but missed some things I needed.”
“So I came here straight from school to sign up for foundation study to get into nursing. The course was cancelled but the agriculture tutor happened to walk in while I was waiting - and I signed up for that instead. I’m so glad I did because I’m really enjoying it and it’s helped me love learning again. I still plan to become a nurse but I’m taking advantage of this now.”
“I grew up in the bush and love animals so I’ve always enjoyed being outside, and I like the physical aspect of this course. We’ve learned how to fix a fence, catch calves, use tools, milk cows, drive a quad and cut firewood. It means that as well as being useful on a farm, we have those skills for our own lives. I always ask heaps of questions because I’m keen to understand.”
“My challenge is realising that my lack of confidence often holds me back. This course is helping push me out of my comfort zone to try new stuff and then I find out it’s easy. A lot of the other students are older and I enjoy their maturity because everyone wants to learn and we’re all focused. We’re paying for this so there’s a lot at stake.”
“Now that I’m keen to learn again, I want to get As. So far my assessments have all been marked A, and that includes a practical component. When I get my certificate I’ll try and get a job, ideally in agriculture to utilise my year of study, but I’ll do any job so I can be financially independent.”
“My dream would be to somehow combine being a farmer and nursing. I’m not sure yet what that could look like. I’m still young so there’s time to explore some options.”
I love everything about the course and I’m even getting through the written assessments OK. The students are a good...
“I was brought up in the country so when I found out about this course I was keen to jump on. When I did level 2 which was really practical, the tutor asked me if I wanted to continue to level 3.”
“I love everything about the course and I’m even getting through the written assessments OK. The students are a good team and some of us knew each other from school. The course gives us more possibility of getting a job. I’d like to work in the north, probably around Dargaville, but I’ll jump straight onto the Agricultural Maintenance course if I don’t have a job by the time the course finishes.”
“I’d love to go farming myself but will start by working for someone.”
“I’ve been really surprised at how much I’ve learnt about myself through the personal development part of the small...
“I was spending 11.5 hours a day in a job I didn’t like - I realised it was time to change and work with something I was passionate about. My girlfriend served as a great role model because she had just landed a job on a cruise ship after studying at NorthTec, so I started researching. My father had some bee keeping experience and I was keen to learn more, so apiculture was my choice.”
“The more you learn about bees, the more you realise there is to learn about them, and I love that our learning is so practical. We get to feed and monitor the bees with our really knowledgeable tutors and we have two hive sites, one in Opononi and one in Kaikohe East. Our course splits into two teams to care for them, and each team rotates the jobs so we all get a go at everything. On wet days we focus on theory.”
“As well as apiculture, we learn about running a small business so that we’ll be able to manage our own hives and by-products if we want to. This was more of a challenge for me, especially the stuff around business plans, business structure and taking care of stakeholders, but it’s given to us in a way we can understand – and it gets our brains working.”
“I’ve been really surprised at how much I’ve learnt about myself through the personal development part of the small business programme, and amazed to think we’d learn that in an apiculture course. It’s so much broader than I imagined and I’m confident now in my abilities. There’s heaps of motivation here from the tutors and from the other students to keep upskilling and I’m loving it. We split up to study small business or apiculture, then swap over, but we’re like one big family and we go on field trips together to some of the apiculture operations run by big companies.”
“We get given a hive when we complete the course and I’m hoping to use the resources from here to eventually build up a small family-orientated business, but first I want to get employment at one of the big companies to gain more experience. The bee industry has some challenges at the moment but education is part of the solution.”
“Now that I’ve found what I love, I’d encourage other young people to find something you’re passionate about. Learn as much as you can, don’t limit your challenges but challenge your limits, put yourself at the top of your field and lift others up when you get there. Consistent hard work leads to success and greatness will follow.”
I’m now General Farm Hand on the 750-hectare Oromahoe Trust sheep and beef farm. This farm is a training farm for our...
“I love hard work and I learn fast if I’m doing hands-on work. I came from the city and jumping on this course has introduced me to fencing and stabilised my life. I love fencing.”
“I’m now General Farm Hand on the 750-hectare Oromahoe Trust sheep and beef farm. This farm is a training farm for our course so I made the connection with Sam, the Assistant Manager here, when we were doing coursework here.”
“I was drawn to the job because it involved a lot of fencing but I now also do other farm work including mustering bulls - and I love it. I’ve gained new skills like tractor driving and stock handling too, and I help some of the course trainees when they come here.”
“A full time position available at the end of 2017 is my next step up. And eventually – I want Sam’s job!”