Students embrace agricultural competition

The future of women in the agricultural sector is looking healthy, if an event being held in Southland is anything to go by.

More than 70 students at Southland Girls' High School in Invercargill will take part in the AgriKidsNZ competition next Thursday, November 29.

The event, which aims to give the students a taste of the primary industries, has more than doubled in size.

It's been organised by the school's thriving TeenAg club for younger year 7-8 students.

"Last year was the first time we held the event," said the club's chair, year 13 student Mckenzie Smith.

Competitors taking part in an AgriKids event
Competitors taking part in an AgriKids event Photo credit: Supplied

"Teachers told us the girls were buzzing afterwards, so they encouraged us to do it again," she said.

The girls compete in teams of three. Ten teams took part last year, and another 24 have registered for next week's event.

Students will tackle eight modules, putting their tastebuds and general knowledge to the test.

"Competitors will have to identify different varieties of apples, correctly erect a temporary electric fence, and there will be a blindfolded taste test," explained Mckenzie.

Mckenzie's been the club's chair for 12 months, and plans to study a Bachelor of Commerce (Agriculture) at Lincoln University.

"We had lots of inspiring guest speakers who've shown us all the opportunities for women in the primary industries," she said.

The 17-year-old, who lives on a 380-cow dairy farm, grasps every opportunity she can to learn new skills.

Mckenzie is one of 170 students from across New Zealand taking part in a unique leadership course run by NZ Young Farmers.

The Leadership Pathway Programme (LPP) is a collection of five learning modules for TeenAg members. The modules focus on membership, fundraising, sponsorship, events and running an annual general meeting (AGM).

"I've completed all five, and what I learned came in really handy when sourcing prizes from Rabobank and Farmlands for our event," she said.

The leadership programme is funded by the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP). It's been developed to identify emerging leaders and ensure they're entering career pathways in the primary industries.