From classroom to cowshed (+ video)

Luke Parker
From classroom to cowshed (+ video)

A group of 25 Massey University journalism students from Wellington left the comfort of their classroom to don gumboots and woollies and experience the realities of farm life this month.

The postgraduate students learned first-hand what it’s like to be agricultural journalists, visiting a dairy farm near Levin to learn about agribusiness and the primary sector.

SEE ALSO: Restoring our waterways

They were accompanied by some of the top agricultural journalists in New Zealand, including Rural News reporter Peter Burke, communications managers from Horticulture New Zealand, Federated Farmers and Dairy New Zealand, Minister for Primary Industries and Racing Nathan Guy, as well as a Westpac agribusiness manager.

Peter Burke says the hope in running these on site field trips is for the students to get a good general understanding of the agricultural sector.

“Whether they become specialists in the area or general journalists, they'll at least have a fundamental understanding of the primary sector. I think that’s very important because we know around half these kids have never been on a farm in their lives, which is not uncommon.”

He says getting this background nowadays is becoming harder because the area is quite specialised and there aren't a lot of people doing it.

“I do this because I'm very passionate about the whole thing and that’s what it’s about,” the 50 year journalism veteran says. “If they come away inspired and enthused then they'll spread the word. It’s got to come through young people, not through old buggers like me.”

The field trip, co-sponsored by Westpac, also gave the students the opportunity to hear about the latest developments in research and interview some of Massey University’s world-leading scientists.

Dr Catherine Strong from the School of Journalism says it’s important for the students to be “well versed” in agricultural issues.

“Massey has a reputation for the quality of its agrifood research and New Zealand as a country has its grounding in agriculture. The students can take the knowledge they've learned about the agricultural industry with them wherever they go in the world.”

 SEE ALSO: Restoring our waterways

Media clips from the day

Jono Edward on urban youth to farms:

Audrey Seaman piece on the trip itself:


Lyall Russell on Keeble Farm:


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