Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Farmer Time logs its first 1000 schoolkids

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Hundreds reached in first year of engaging young people with farm-to-fork story.
Mairi Whittle, pictured with partner Hayden and sons Tad and Lachie, says the programme has helped form a connection with students who didn’t initially know much about farming but are interested to learn more.
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Farmer Time, an education programme set up by Beef + Lamb New Zealand to connect food and fibre producers virtually with NZ primary and intermediate school students, has reached more than 1000 students in its first year. 

The educational programme aims to engage, inspire and educate young people about the journey of food from farm to fork in the primary industries.

Types of farming involved in Farmer Time include sheep, beef and dairy; fruit, vegetable and grain; goat, deer and pig; and agricultural contracting.

More than 1000 students participated in the initiative during 2022, with the programme receiving an enormous amount of positive feedback from participants, Farmer Time national co-ordinator Marie Burke said.

“It’s been amazing to be a part of this programme from the inception and see it grow so much. 

“Our hard work to match teachers with farmers and growers has paid off and we can’t wait to see where it can go from here.”

Starting with a small pilot group of eight farmer-teacher pairs in term one of 2022, Farmer Time expanded quickly to reach more than 40 pairings by the end of the year. 

Feedback received from participants has been overwhelmingly positive. 

Survey results indicate that 100% of classes thoroughly enjoyed the Farmer Time sessions.

Teachers agreed the programme contributes significantly to developing students’ awareness of the work carried out by food and fibre producers as well as shedding light on the numerous career opportunities available in the primary industries.

Notable statistics from the survey include 100% of teachers rating the programme as highly valuable for their class, with all respondents indicating their willingness to recommend Farmer Time to other teachers, with 91% of teachers reporting successfully connecting the ideas and discussions from Farmer Time sessions with further in-class learning.

Almost all farmers, 90%, expressed their intention to continue participating in Farmer Time with the remaining indicating they would be interested in returning to it in the future.

All the eight NZ curriculum learning areas were covered.

A Year two and three teacher from Northland School in Wellington, Emma McElrea, said Farmer Time is an incredible tool to help bring real-world examples to the NZ curriculum learning areas in a unique way, “being able to literally bring them to life”.

“Our farmer, Mairi Whittle, has been incredible to work with. We’re learning so much and our whole class has formed a real bond with Mairi and her boys.”

Whittle, a sheep and beef farmer from Taihape, speaks very highly of her Farmer Time experience, 

“It’s been an honour to be a part of Farmer Time in conjunction with Emma.

“I feel like I’m forming a real connection with the students who didn’t initially know much about farming but are interested to learn more.

“My family and I take for granted what we know about farming, so it’s heartening to share parts of farming life with students who might not otherwise get this chance. 

“We look forward to seeing their excited little faces and love the questions they think of,” Whittle said.

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