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“After a background in admin, I recently found beekeeping and it’s so fascinating that I’ll probably be learning about bees for the rest of my life.”
Connie was introduced to bees when her husband started working at a honey extraction plant. “It seemed interesting so I joined him at the plant, then without knowing what we were doing we bought 12 hives. Because I was keen to learn more, I enrolled for the apiculture course in Whangarei, loved it and realized how much there was to learn.”
Soon after she graduated from the level 3 course Connie got a phone call from NorthTec which she assumed was to encourage her to up-level her study to level 4. “Instead I was massively surprised to hear they wanted me to teach the level 3 course part time. I said yes and most of my first course time was working one-on-one with a 19 year old student with ADHD who previously had struggled to find meaningful work. He got really hooked on bees, spent heaps of time working in our NorthTec hives, and now runs his own pollination business.”
Connie’s Pathway Manager, James Smith, says that she showed a great deal of empathy for her student and was determined to see him realize the first step of his dream. “Connie’s approach is positive and encouraging, and we offered an innovative and supportive option to deliver training that traditionally would not have been possible. Connie’s passion for bee-keeping inspires others and was a key reason she was offered the teaching position. We have a small but very experienced apiculture team so I know the technical support is there if required.”
Connie now has a class of 15 students, is studying for her Certificate in Adult and Tertiary Teaching, and is keen to keep improving her own beekeeping skills and knowledge. “NorthTec have been so supportive giving me a chance to grow into what is now a career and a calling. My life has completely changed in the last four years.”
“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.”
“I used to live in Wellington, working a nine to five job. My husband was home with the kids, and it was exhausting...
“This course has made me want to go out and start my own small business fencing and properly get out there and help...
“I decided to do the Apiculture course because it was stepping out of my box. My family are all teachers, and I...
“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 grew up on a sheep and beef farm so I’ve always been around farming but I wanted to step up a level in my...
“I grew up on a sheep and beef farm so I’ve always been around farming but I wanted to step up a level in my knowledge and broaden my experience. I saw an advertisement for this course on Facebook when I was working casually on a Landcorp block, and now that I’m on board I really enjoy learning new experiences on different farms.”
“We get to see a different side of farming including dairying which is all new to me. It’s more interesting than I thought and fairly high tech. We get to work as a team, as an individual or in pairs, so we all learn off each other and get to know our weak and strong points.”
“When I finish I’ll look for a job and longer term I’d like to be a heavy operator digger driver or a shepherd.”
I’m learning to shift stock, check on the calves, feed out, do fencing, and weed with the chainsaw. I love that there...
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’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!”