Mason Jones came to study agriculture at Telford from a city background. Realising he would be starting from scratch, he chose to study there because he knew he needed to learn the basics properly.
“What sold me on Telford, was the range of practical skills they taught, and being able to go out to work experience for a week each month. I also liked the idea of training my own dog,” he said.
Many students started with the Telford Certificate in Agriculture (which has now been replaced with the Farming Systems and Equipment (Level 3)) in their first year at Telford, then continued with the Diploma in Agriculture in the second year, and Mason chose this option.
It was “cool” being taught skills such as shearing, fencing and butchery, and then being able to go out on work experience and use them, he said. He also learnt about animal husbandry, animal health, soils and plants among the many topics covered on the course.
“All in all, the course taught me the skills needed to work on a farm as a Junior Shepherd,” Mason said.
He continued his learning journey In the Diploma in Agriculture with a range of topics that included farm management and different ways and systems of doing this, computing, budgeting, soils and plants, engineering and animal science.
A highlight of the course was being able to train his own working dog.
“Watching them progress from a puppy to the stage where they could head a small mob of sheep to you was awesome.”
Gaining suitable qualifications has helped open doors to employment – after completing the Diploma in Agriculture he was employed by Riverslea Farm, a sheep and beef farm near Te Anau, which he found through his Work Experience Manager at Telford. While he was on work experience at a Te Anau farm during the holidays, the manager took him to a neighbouring farm, where they were looking for a junior shepherd.
The job was secured and five months later he began working at Riverslea Farm. There for two years as a junior shepherd, Mason then moved to Rangitaiki Station – Pamu, in the North Island, where he’s employed as a senior shepherd on the deer unit
Short term, Mason hopes to travel overseas and experience working on different farms to see how their systems work. When he returns, he sees his future working with Agritech and new technologies that can help improve the efficiency and ways of doing things in the agricultural industry.
“My qualifications and experience have helped me understand the basic running of a farm, and with further experience I should be able to progress into an Agritech role,” he said.
As well as this, Mason knows all he has learned so far will come in handy when he fulfils his goal one day of owning or leasing his own small block of land, with his partner.