When Paula Childs (52), Laike Moes (20), and Charlotte Wells (16) enrolled for UCOL’s six week AG Contracting Course, their aim was simple. They were ready to enter New Zealand’s largest export earning industry. It wasn’t just knowledge and experience that they left with though.
After only a short period of time, the three students say they feel a great sense of connection with UCOL and its team, especially their tutor John Murphy, Lecturer – Agriculture (General Farming). For learner Laike, she referred to John as one of the most helpful touchpoints during their time at UCOL, making their journey really enjoyable. “As much as we learnt about the industry and machinery, John always had a life story to back it up, aiding our learning,” she says.
In between learning how to operate machinery and talking about the industry, the group enjoyed plenty of banter. “One day, Charlotte started calling John, ‘Tractor John’ and it stuck like glue,” laughs Laike. “We have heard John use the phrase ‘just saying’ one too many times. We later decided to print t-shirts that read these words for our class. It was dedicated to John, we wanted to make his day.”
For Paula it was the fun of learning from a familiar face – she used to work for John, driving jet boats years back. Paula recently returned to New Zealand after living in Australia for thirteen years, and was only just settling in when John told her about the course. Her passion for heavy vehicles, and desire to explore something different than the corporate world she was in, ultimately drew her to sign up. “It had been many years since I attended any kind of learning, so to be met with people who were so supportive and friendly, it made my experience complete. I was made to feel really at home,” adds Paula.
Paula enjoyed the practical side of the course the most. “I’m grateful for having the opportunity to operate machinery I’d never touched before, to learn the actual in’s and out’s of the machines themselves, their maintenance, and functionality,” she says. Paula says it was through this course that she gained a job in the civil construction industry. “I’m extremely excited to start work as a Trainee Dump Truck Operator for Te Ahu a Turanga – Manawatū Tararua Highway project,” she adds.
The free AG Contracting Course is delivered on UCOL’s Taratahi campus. Students are also provided with free accommodation and meals during the week. This year’s last intake kicked off on 1 November, with 2022 intake dates to be announced soon. Those wanting to know about future intake dates, can get in touch at 0800 GO UCOL (0800 468 265).