Southern Institute of Technology’s (SIT) agricultural faculty Telford has a long-held tradition of running Taster Camps for students thinking of training there for a career in agriculture. Due to unprecedented job losses through the Covid-19 lockdown, Telford is running a series of three-day Taster Camps informing on primary industries, aimed at recently redundant workers from those sectors affected by the pandemic, including: tourism, hospitality, retail and more.
Telford’s Taster Camps allow participants to experience a range of activities in the primary sector to help in the decision-making process of pursuing a career in agriculture. They usually include a general overview of essential information about the primary sector and a variety of short experiences, applicable to the programmes being profiled.
The three-day camps will broaden awareness of the range of options in the primary sector. Attendees will have practical experiences handling and with welfare of farm animals, explore a range of land uses e.g. horticulture, forestry, harvesting crops; use farm vehicles; and learn about the importance of caring for our land for future generations.
Telford is situated in South Otago, within a thriving rural community and is just 5km from Balclutha. Set over a generous 851 hectares of farmland, most of the property is run as a commercial farm. In addition to this, there are halls of residence (student accommodation), and a wide variety of facilities for hands-on learning, including: technical workshops (machinery, carpentry and welding), classrooms, livestock units and a complete equine suite - including indoor and outdoor arenas and stable blocks.
The fully-funded camps are an ideal opportunity to try Telford before committing to a programme said Debbie Rankin, Telford’s Programme Manager. She said it gives people a realistic view of their course of study, prior to enrolling. Participants on the three-day camps will have their training, meal, accommodation and living costs covered for the three days.
Miss Rankin said after expos highlighting the new initiative were held in Queenstown and Te Anau in June, intakes began filling up. With the first Job Seekers Taster Camp running last week, here are some comments from an attendee.
Queenstown-based John Quinn attended last week’s Taster Camp as his multimedia business has been heavily impacted by NZ’s Covid-19 response. It was a good time for him to consider other options and think about ways of moving forward. He said as an IT person and a “complete townie” he wanted a really good, general overview of the agriculture industry as a starting point.
“I found the whole thing insightfully done – it looked at all aspects of agriculture, it was an intensive download providing answers on every question you’ve ever wanted to know about agriculture”.
He said for anyone considering a move to agriculture, this camp is a must-do. Mr Quinn said during the camp they were well-fed and housed. His room was warm and well-presented and the food was great. He also noted the facilities at Telford were pretty amazing, commenting on the world-class equine layout.
A stand-out day for him was the forestry day, where he saw million-dollar machines in action and had every question answered. He’s been impressed with how the redeployment programme has seen Telford, industry and local government working together to find solutions and get people working again.
“This is a lifeline to people – there’s thousands of people needing work, there are jobs needing filled, this is the glue that brings the two together. It gives people hope and that’s what they need right now”.
“I recommend it – if you’re in the first stages of thinking, What could I do? This is a brilliant foundation. It will answer lot of your questions and you’ll get direct, straight-forward answers”.