Videos Help Teach Farming Skills at Toi Ohomai During Lockdown

Farming tutor Rachel Nash works on her laptop among a paddock of cows during lockdown

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

After weeks in lockdown, Rachel Nash couldn’t wait to get back on the farm with her students. The agriculture tutor was excited to return to work at Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology’s Whakatāne Campus last week. 

Rachel kept busy during self-isolation with jobs on her lifestyle block. She also reached out to others in the agriculture sector to show students farming skills in action. 
This year’s farming cohort started at Toi Ohomai on 9 March, two and-a-half weeks before New Zealand entered Alert Level 4 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rachel says experiences are the core of the agriculture course, so she was frustrated students couldn’t get out on the farm due to lockdown restrictions.
Technology helped bridge the gap.

While Toi Ohomai provided online learning through resources such as Moodle, Rachel also created a Messenger group on Facebook for her class.

She tapped industry contacts and other Toi Ohomai farming tutors, adding them to the group so they could share videos of their work. Rachel contributed her own videos because every interaction or task was an opportunity for students to learn about agriculture.

“I live on a lifestyle block, and there is a dairy farm next door so I made videos when I was out doing things. I’m really lucky because of the area where I live - I could just hop over the fence and do practical demonstrations. 

“When we moved to Alert Level 2 but before the students returned, I was fortunate enough to be able to do some teat sealing at the neighbouring farm with the Edgecumbe Vets, so I did a question and answer session with them while we worked, then shared the video with students.”

Rachel says Toi Ohomai alumni are part of the group, including Judas Mika, Matthew Giordano and Jayden Pahuru, who completed the course late last year and have shared daily videos of farm work. 

“It’s been really neat to see them stepping up to help and sharing their knowledge.”

Five of her eight students are female, so seeing photos and videos of Anahera Hale, who completed the course in 2018 and is working for Eastern Bay of Plenty farmer Rod McPherson was particularly inspiring. 

“Rod has shared photos and videos of Anahera driving a 110hp tractor around with skill and ease. They really look up to her, it’s really cool.” 

Rachel also added key people to her online group from support services at Toi Ohomai, including Māori Pacific Trade Training Te Ara Poutama Project Coordinator Josh Hahunga and Regional Engagement Facilitator Joanne Spod.

“The majority of my students are Māori, so Josh and his team have been a great support for them. And Jo Spod is just amazing. She made sure my students had everything they needed to make it easier to learn. She always goes above and beyond.”

Rachel says some of her students also received credit to top up their phones from the Youth Guarantee Fund so they could continue learning from home.

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