The children are the future, but how well do they know the in’s and out’s of agri? 17-year-old Greer Baldwin, an Agribusiness student at St Paul’s Collegiate in Hamilton, sat down with us to give the inside scoop.
Despite not growing up on a farm, Greer has been around agri her whole life. Her Mum, Karen, works in Agri-tourism and the Baldwin family have been involved at National Fieldays for generations. Karen’s line of work allows overseas visitors to experience a real life Kiwi farm in action and is an interesting line of tourism a lot of young people aren’t aware of.
Thanks to Greer’s experience with her mother’s business, she has grown up fully aware that agri is more than gumboots and milking cows, and now has her sights set on studying agriculture at a tertiary level. Born and bred in the Waikato, Greer is excited to branch away from home and is tossing up between either Massey or Lincoln University where she will study agribusiness and tourism.
A big part of why Greer has chosen to pursue a career in agri is that she can see the importance of needing to feed the world sustainably. “Agriculture is the way we live, because without it we wouldn’t be here today. People don’t always realise it but the act of eating is actually agriculture.”
Greer believes a major challenge the wider agri industry faces is the ability to educate the wider public, including those living in cities, about the true scope of what agri entails. Greer believes exposure to this at a young age is very important. “We need to show people right from a young age there is more to agriculture than dairy farming. It has to come from schools as well as families – we can’t always rely on parents to be able to teach their kids as they might not know much themselves.”
Although there is definitely still a large gap, Greer believes mutual understanding is improving and that youth are obtaining a clearer awareness of the depth and breadth of agri. One way to further this through schools may be through collaboration. Greer suggests that giving schools in urban areas the opportunity to experience an agriculture day at a more rurally located school could help. “I think there is opportunity for schools to make the most of the knowledge country kids already have. By teaming these kids up with other students they can share their knowledge with city classmates who may come from a family with little to no awareness.”
Greer was lucky enough to be selected to attend the Rabobank Waikato Agri-Leadership Programme in January this year, a programme she thinks is a great example of how people can be educated on the wider agri sector. “I really enjoyed it, it was cool how they showed us different aspects of the agriculture industry. I’ve definitely found I need to look at the different options there are out there and the different pathways I can go down.”
With a passion for food, Greer would love to share and educate people on the difference between fresh produces, and processed goods. Encouraging people to eat fresh produce and value-added products helps support people in the industry and our local economy.
“People need to know to look further than just what’s on their plate. It’s what is happening on farm before it gets there. But unless you’re on a particular diet, there aren’t many people who think beyond the plate. Encouraging people to source local produce, for the good of New Zealand markets, is really important.”
So what is Greer’s key piece of advice? “Study agriculture. It’s so much more than you think, it opens so many doors, and there’s a lot of opportunity.”
Greer will be a key guest speaker at the official launch of New Zealand Agri Investment Week.