Saturday, December 2, 2023

Fun contest teaches kids farm skills

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Kiwitahi School children get down to it with kit sized for mini-farmers.
Overalls and all, Charlotte Taylor-Smith is ready for milking.
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Kiwitahi School students pulled on their gumboots and overalls to learn new rural skills in a fun Young Farmer Competition on May 2.

A variety of challenges were run at the Waikato school by parents and rural organisations including DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the Rural Support Trust. These included herding sheep in real yards brought onto the school grounds, custom-building a child-sized grain auger and seed sorting. 

DairyNZ’s challenge was to put up a break fence, helping children learn new skills while having fun. Other challenges taught children the principles of milking a cow and how to check if a calf is in the right position for birthing. 

Holly Smith and Zach Mayes learn about trailer strops.

All 70 Kiwitahi School pupils participated – 5-to 10-year-olds in Years 1-6. 

Principal Nicholas Jensen said the feel-good event celebrated rural living and schools. 

“Our community wants their pupils to gain a solid educational foundation in literacy and numeracy, but also a set of practical skills and theory that will contribute to life in or around the primary sector.”

This is the second time the annual event has been held. Last year it was run entirely by parents and teachers. This year, rural organisations got involved – including Rural Support Trust, PGG Wrightson Seeds and Orion Haulage.

DairyNZ education and community engagement manager Phillipa Adam was excited to be involved in the day as part of the industry good body’s broader education programme, connecting young New Zealanders with dairy farming. 

“The young farmer contest was a brilliant opportunity for children to experience the many hats farmers wear and learn what farmers do. Young people are our future farmers,” Adam said.

Jack Martin in DairyNZ’s break fence challenge.

DairyNZ’s education programme creates in-school science resource kits aligned to the NZ curriculum. The kits support schools to teach curriculum-based subjects such as science and maths within a unique dairying context.  

DairyNZ also organises visits to dairy farms for schoolchildren and gives children the opportunity to learn more about dairy farming at home on the Rosie’s World website.  

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