Entire Northland school visits farm on paddock to plate learning journey

Posted by on 3 July 2018 | Comments

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A national project is helping a Northland teacher combine her two passions of education and food production.

Natalie Lynch teaches a class of Years 5-8 students at Matakohe School in the Kaipara District.

Last week the small school’s entire roll of 47 pupils visited the farm of Marshall Walton in Whangarei.

“Watching a sheep being shorn, pressing a bale of wool in a manual press, and using the drafting gates was a new experience for everyone,” said Natalie.

The field trip was part of a major national project putting students from 100 schools onto sheep and beef farms. 

The education programme is funded by the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) and delivered by NZ Young Farmers. 

“Although we live in a rural area, many of our students do not have hands-on experience with agriculture,” said Natalie.

“As a member of NZ Young Farmers it has been a fantastic opportunity to bring my passion for food production into the classroom.”

The farm visit is part of a resource students are studying on boosting productivity in the red meat sector. 

“Students were really excited to finally see two wagyu bulls and hear about the differences between the breed and other beef cattle,” said Natalie.

“The highlight for me was learning how to weigh Marshall’s wagyu cows. It was really interesting,” said Year 6 student Brooke Taylor Amesbury.

The aim of the programme is to also help pupils and teachers understand the wealth of careers on offer in the agri-food sector. 

“We want to get the industry on the radar of students and teachers, so they’re aware of the opportunities,” said RMPP’s Di Falconer. 

New Zealand’s red meat sector will need to find an extra 33,000 workers by 2025 to replace people who will retire or exit the industry.

“I like working with animals and helping them. I’d really like to be a vet when I’m older,” said Year 8 student Amber Baker.

Natalie grew up on a farm and has been a member of Kaipara Young Farmers for the past four years.

She believes the education programme is vital for several reasons.

“It is important that we dispel the myth that a career in agriculture has less value than a more academic path,” said Natalie.

“This project has allowed students to see the wide range of skills and knowledge required to be a successful farmer and food producer.”

“I believe it’s helped students develop a stronger understanding of the journey their food takes from paddock to plate,” she said.