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Outdoors Enthusiast Finds Farm Studies a Natural Fit

August 18, 2010

Not one for spending hours in front of a computer screen or swotting textbooks, Chris Campbell enjoyed a tertiary study programme that included practical class work on various farms in Hawke’s Bay.

Chris grew up on the family farm west of Napier, so rural studies might have seemed the obvious first choice after leaving high school. He launched into computer studies, however, but then realised the degree programme wasn’t what he had imagined. After a year, his practical bent won out and he found the Diploma of Agriculture offered at EIT Hawke’s Bay a better fit.

“I really like getting out there and doing things with my hands,” he explains. “I like seeing something going from point A to point B.”

Coming from a farming background, Chris slotted easily into the one-year diploma programme. “I had the knowledge to support me,” he says of his experience working with sheep, beef and apples on his father’s property at Puketapu.

While some people might allow farming to become an isolating job, Chris makes sure he gets out. He’s a member of a sports club and belongs to an active group of 15 Young Farmers who meet once a month. He also enjoys hunting, watching rugby, motorcross and cars.

EIT now partners up with Taratahi in Masterton to offer the Level 3 National Certificate in Farming Skills on the Taradale campus and various on-farm locations in Hawke’s Bay. The Level 5 National Diploma in Agribusiness Management is a 2½ year part-time programme that allows students to use their workplace properties as case studies for assessments.

Chris says these programmes would suit someone who likes the outdoors and wants to stay in Hawke’s Bay while getting a qualification.

Chris enjoyed the regular outside work that was part of his study programme, although he also attended classes in lecture rooms in EIT’s Food and Wine complex – a contemporary, architect-designed building at the western end of the Taradale campus.

“Learning worked better for me with the smaller class size,” the 20-year-old says. “There was a lot of one-on-one contact with the tutors. If you’re not a top student in the bigger institutions, you could get left at the back of the pack. I got all the help I needed.”

A top student himself, Chris was the 2009 EIT recipient of the Meat and Wool Scholarship. He graduated last year and is now working on family property, mainly focusing on orchard work.

In the meantime he is looking around to see what other work is available for gaining further experience in the agriculture and horticulture sector.

“It’s amazing how many jobs are out there for young shepherds. There’s a high turnover rate on farms,” he says, “especially in dairying” – although that’s an area of farming that doesn’t hold much appeal for this young man.

“If it’s raining you can always drench tomorrow, but you can’t put off milking the cows until tomorrow.”