Studying alongside working is hard but so worthwhile says EIT Tairāwhiti agribusiness student Adrian Allen.
Employed by Whangara Farms, just north of Gisborne, Adrian has had a long journey to follow his passion and this year will finish his Diploma in Agriculture.
He is grateful for the support of his employer and says the path to learning has helped him better understand the whole farming operation and fueled his passion for farming.
“Being able to work and study means you can put the learning into practise. They go hand in hand,” he says
But the road to his success has not been easy.
“I have had to do the hard yards … it takes hard work to get things done.”
When Adrian, now 45, left school at 15 he went into farming and studied levels one to four while working.
Then he went to Australia to work in the mines for six years before returning to New Zealand and working in construction.
“I was a bit lost really and then realised farming was my passion.”
So in 2017 while working on a bridge construction at Cape Palliser he saw an advertisement for work with Whangara Farms, a large farming operation owned by a Māori Incorporation, applied and got it.
“Big blocks have always been special to me and the board and management hold all the values I believe in. They are extremely supportive of staff upskilling – always looking at succession in the business. Also I have always wanted to work on the East Coast.”
To be successful you have to love what you do, says Adrian.
“And you need to plan and organise your life to reach your goals.”
When he returned to EIT as a mature student in 2017, he first thought he should do level four again.
“But my boss Richard Scholefield encouraged me to go for the diploma.”
Adrian is looking forward to completing his study this year and has some advice for others considering studying and working.
“It is a challenge – working all day and studying at night – but it is achievable if you take on little bits at a time.
“Read everything properly and find things you know to start with then go back and tackle the things that need research.
“Don’t leave it to build up because it puts too much pressure on you.”
Adrian says the learning helps him get into his job more because he knows what is happening.
“And I have the best ever office!”