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Students explore science career opportunities

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Giving senior Waikato high school students with a passion for science a taste of what a career in agricultural science could offer was the aim of an interactive workshop hosted by AgResearch, DairyNZ, LIC and the University of Waikato.

Students get a taste of the career opportunities in the dairy industry at the DairyNZ Science Career Day.

Students get a taste of the career opportunities in the dairy industry at the DairyNZ Science Career Day.

This was the second annual DairyNZ Year 13 Science Career Day, which aims to educate senior science students about the many and varied career opportunities within New Zealand agriculture.

“We’ve found a lack of awareness in both secondary school teachers and students about the science career opportunities within the dairy-related sector,” says event organiser, DairyNZ industry education facilitator Susan Stokes.

“Ensuring that agriculture has the science talent it needs for continued innovation is vital. We’ve had a fantastic response to this year’s event from students and teachers alike. When a student writes on their feedback form they’d like to do it all again to learn more, you can’t ask for a better response.”

Forty students from 16 Waikato secondary schools took part in a variety of agricultural science activities, spanning pasture to plate. Soil assessment, pasture growth, nutrient leaching, artificial breeding and animal productivity and health were demonstrated by scientists from AgResearch, DairyNZ, LIC and Waikato University’s Earth Sciences department.

Ensuring that agriculture has the science talent it needs for continued innovation is vital.

DairyNZ and AgResearch science intern Charlotte Robertson presented her personal journey into a career in science.

“It was great to see how many of the students came from non-farming backgrounds yet were still keen to explore the opportunities in the dairy sector,” she says.

“Having grown up a ‘townie’ myself, and ending up in dairy science almost by accident, shows that you don’t need to grow up on a farm to work in the industry. Events like this provide students with more awareness of what is out there when it comes to making a decision about what to do after they leave school.”

This year’s keynote speaker, Waikato University scientist Dr Megan Balks, talked about her path into a career focused on the science of soils.

“A career in the field of science has taken me on a journey filled with adventures that I never dreamed possible. We hope we have inspired the students with our personal stories, infected them with our passion for the industry and given them an insight into the wide range of options within a career in agricultural science.”

DairyNZ awards scholarships supporting dairy-related study at Lincoln, Massey or Waikato universities.

Visit dairynz.co.nz/scholarships for more information.

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