More choose agriculture, forestry

Marlborough Boys' College year 13 student Max Boyce cuts up a log in Spring Creek as part of the school's forestry course.
Marlborough Boys' College year 13 student Max Boyce cuts up a log in Spring Creek as part of the school's forestry course.

More Marlborough Boys' College students are taking up agriculture and forestry at the school, which may reflect job opportunities in the region, its head of department says.

Forty-two year 12 students and 28 year 13 students are taking agriculture this year, teacher Gary Ytsma said.

Thirty-nine year 12 and 36 year 13 students were also taking forestry.

Most of the forestry students were also taking agriculture and vice-versa.

The number of students taking the subjects, run through industry training organisations, fluctuated, but "it's getting bigger rather than smaller", he said.

Most of the unit standards in the subjects are based around safety, including safety with quadbikes and chainsaws, and go toward the students' NCEA Level 2 and 3 credits.

More were seeing work in both industries as a career opportunity, "working outdoors rather than in an office". They leave school with practical skills to enter the agriculture and forestry industries, Mr Ytsma said. Several students continued studying forestry at a tertiary level, but they would be the exception, he said.

Forestry companies also contacted the school looking for students to join their forestry crews because the company did not have to retrain them.

"That's a bonus for them [the company] and makes it worthwhile for students."

Mr Ytsma, who worked in the forestry industry before becoming a teacher, uses his contacts to organise field trips to wineries, wood processing plants and forestry blocks to give students an idea of what job opportunities there were.

Former students have also started their own forestry companies and were working in the Marlborough and Nelson regions.

"Some have done really well. They work with $1 million worth of equipment and hire 10 other people."

Year 11 students could also take agriculture and a term-long introduction was also available for year 10 students.

The Marlborough Express