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Hands-On Course Sets Students Up For Further Tertiary Learning

July 13, 2011

Carissa Looij learns to look after hens on her EIT course.

Napier teenager Carissa Looij is feeling more confident about shaping her future direction after completing a new land skills course offered at EIT.   

The 17-year-old didn’t enjoy school and only had her Level 1 NCEA when she left.  She worked as a volunteer for the RSPCA before signing up this year for the newly-launched Certificate in Applied Practical Skills – Land Skills.

For 17 weeks, the outdoors was Carissa’s classroom.  She and fellow students worked with sheep and cattle on EIT’s farm, made compost, tended vegie gardens, worked in glasshouses, drove tractors and ATVs, learned to use chainsaws and built chicken runs.

For the programme finale, the class celebrated with a barbecue they had largely created from scratch.  They harvested and pickled olives, cooked chickens they had been tending, milked cows, made cheese, used herbs and vegetables they had grown and picked apples to juice. 

 Family, friends and supporters were invited to the slap-up meal which was shared with the programme’s tutors. 

The starter of rosemary and olive foccacia bread served with a side of mozzarella cheese was followed by rosemary and olive butterflied lamb, sage and thyme roast chicken and mushroom and broccoli quiche.  Dessert was apple crumble and chocolate brownie with whipped cream.

As programme coordinator David Jefferd says of the meal:  “It was something slightly different and a lot of fun for the students.  They got a real kick out of seeing what the downstream benefits are from working in Hawke’s Bay’s land-based industries and how important these are to our economy.”

All the students on the inaugural programme were teenagers and most had few ideas about where they might head themselves in life.   Now they have goals.  All eight graduates are enrolled or enrolling in EIT programmes in animal care, visual arts and design or agriculture.

Several are already thinking further ahead and are considering where they might staircase their studies next.  Carissa, for example, is going on to EIT’s Certificate in Animal Care and after that will decide whether to do veterinary nursing or agriculture.  

David, who designed the programme with horticulture tutor Gordon Reid, says it’s been “a real buzz” to have seen the students make the transition from secondary school to tertiary study.

Now that the word is out, EIT is fielding more inquiries about the upcoming second-semester Certificate in Applied Practical Skills – Land Skills programme.

 “I thought it was really good for a first go, actually,” Carissa says of her first taste of tertiary study. “There were a lot of different aspects to the course and a lot of different kinds of things to try out.  Horticulture, agriculture and animal care – it’s great there are all those different pathways.”

EIT’s Head of School, Applied Science, Diane Marshall says a lot of young people could benefit from doing the programme.

“It’s an opportunity to try out a wide range of land skills and sample possibilities for further training.

“EIT’s pastoral care ensures students are really looked after and the programme offers imbedded numeracy and literacy.   It’s a gentle start to tertiary study, giving students a taste of what it’s like to be in a polytech.”