This article first appeared in our sister publication, Dairy Farmer.
A new boardgame that helps build knowledge and understanding of food production will be used as a study tool by secondary school students across New Zealand this year.
The Grow boardgame was launched at the Fieldays Opportunity Grows Here careers hub and is expected to be available in schools in April.
Developed as part of a joint initiative between Rabobank, Te Whare Wānaka o Aoraki Lincoln University and the Agribusiness in Schools Programme, the game was created to support learning by year 11 students studying National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) agribusiness.
It touches on all the major topics in the agribusiness curriculum and provides students with a fun way to acquire and reinforce course content.
Copies of the boardgame are now being mass produced and several sets will be sent to the more than 100 schools participating in the Agribusiness in Schools programme.
Rabobank New Zealand CEO Todd Charteris said the idea for the game came about following discussions between Rabobank’s Upper South Island Client Council – a group of the bank’s clients who meet regularly to discuss the challenges facing the agri sector – and Lincoln University.
“Our client councils have identified long-term industry capacity as one of the key challenges facing the agricultural sector and, over recent years, our Upper South Island Council has worked closely alongside Lincoln University to develop initiatives to highlight to school students the range of career opportunities within the sector,” he said.
“One of the topics that has regularly come up in conversations between our council and Lincoln University is the need for more resources to support learning about food production at the secondary school level and, as a result, it was decided the two parties would collaborate to develop a new board game which would help shine a light on the wide array of knowledge and skills required to run a successful farming operation.”
Charteris said both parties felt it was essential to align the content of the game with the NCEA curriculum, so they reached out to Kerry Allen and Melanie Simmons from the Agribusiness in Schools programme to help with the design process.
“After more than 18 months of development, the game is now ready to go and I’m confident it will prove a hit with students and really help increase understanding of food production as well as encouraging more young people to consider a career in the primary industries,” he said.
“Initially the game will only be made available to schools who are part of the Agribusiness in Schools programme, but if there is enough interest, there is also scope to make the game available to all secondary schools across New Zealand.”
Lincoln University student engagement manager Jaime Shone said the game focuses on the financial, social, and environmental aspects of food production and also incorporates elements of mātauranga Māori.
“Up to six players can participate in the game, with all players initially allocated a piece of land and sum of money before choosing if they wish to operate a dairy, sheep and beef, horticulture, viticulture or arable farming operation,” she said.
“Gameplay consists of players moving around a board and accumulating money, which then gives them an opportunity to purchase the required assets to operate their farm. Players must successfully answer a question to collect an asset, and the first player to collect all the assets required for their farm wins the game.”
Shone said game questions relate to a massive array of topics, including biosecurity, soil composition, waterways, key agri terms, biodiversity, biological processes, animal behaviour, weather patterns and agricultural production by region.
“In addition to covering all key aspects of the agribusiness programme, game questions also have significant crossover with the content of the NCEA geography and science curriculums,” she said.
“We expect the game will also get plenty of use from students studying these topics.”