Student View Point
You don't have to be from a farm to study Agribusiness
Meet Maia Kelly, a top Agribusiness year 13 student at St Paul’s Collegiate School in Hamilton. Maia was first attracted to the course as an option through her interest in business. Not knowing anything about the Primary Industries, being a townie with no farming background and only picking up her course in the last year of school, she definitely had a few hesitations, but has since found that none of these factors have hindered her at all!
The Agribusiness option is available to students from year 11 through to 13 and can be taken at NCEA level 2 and 3. So far she has found it to be highly interesting and a real eye opener into how important the Primary Industries are, to the economic survival of New Zealand. Job opportunities extend well into areas beyond the farm gate, such as food technology, aquaculture, equine, and forestry - just to name a few, and this is an exciting aspect of the curriculum to Maia who has now developed a special interest in environmental issues and wants to study environmental law and commerce at university.
The Agribusiness in Schools programme has four main areas of learning; Agri-science, Agri-marketing, Agri-management and Agri Innovation. A recent internal assessment was learning how to make Camembert cheese and the focus on innovation was to add a pro-biotic to the cheese to improve the product. Maia laughs about the fact that she didn’t have any idea of how Camembert cheese was made! “It ended up like a hard goo that was covered in liquid and then we had to cut it” They have also since learned how to make beef jerky.
Maia now also likes to watch the news, as often topics she has learned about through the Agribusiness school, feature on TV, such as the negative effects of nitrogen leaching into New Zealand’s waterways. This particular subject has been complimentary to her economics class, where they have also been learning about negative externalities in production and she sees this cross over as quite beneficial
One of Maia’s most memorable learnings from the curriculum has hands down been “The Crocodile Pit” where a panel of 8 experts judge the marketability of an Agribusiness related product or service. With the possibility of winning $400 cash for your group and the opportunity to showcase your product at the NZ National Fieldays Innovation Hub, it can be quite intense. This was her very first assignment and admits she was “slightly terrified” at the time, but saw it as such a great learning experience on how to market a product successfully in the real world.
Unfortunately, traditionally Agriculture in education has been seen as a non academic subject, however Maia believes that the Agribusiness course would be beneficial and interesting to anyone with a strong work ethic. She goes on to say that you don’t necessarily have to excel just at math or science (although this would definitely help) as there’s a lot of practical learning, researching, gaining knowledge and then analysing those findings to come up with multiple solutions to a problem. Maia loves the problem solving side of it and learning about the inner workings of a business. “ The Primary Industries are always thinking about opportunities for future growth and expansion, focusing on problems and how they can be improved on.” She admires this about the industry.
Agribusiness has their own dedicated building on the St Paul's Collegiate campus, that consists of three classrooms and a commercial kitchen where they can experiment with making food. Usually there would be a few more field trips and guest speakers coming along to talk, but this year was an exception due to covid restrictions. Maia is now looking forward to the rest of her year and learning about more exciting opportunities in the Primary Industries.
Written by Catherine Bryant - September 2022
Agribusiness, Marketing and Communications Co-ordinator
Over the past three years, more than 200 students have studied agribusiness at St Paul’s. Here is what they have to say about the programme:
- “From our field trips and guest speakers, I have come to learn the important role that technology plays on farming today … and that the use of technology will grow.” – Kate Wilkins – Year 13 Agribusiness student, 2014. Kate went on to study Commerce at Canterbury University
- “I thought I would start working immediately as a shepherd on our family’s sheep and beef farm but after taking Agribusiness at St Paul’s, I have decided to study Agribusiness at university.” – William Reeves – Year 13 Agribusiness student, 2014. William went on to study Agribusiness at Lincoln University.