Young people from many Hokianga communities have jumped at the chance to take part in a hands-on emergency services skills training programme that kicks off this weekend.
Thirty-five young people applied for 18 available places on Hokianga's first hosting of the four-week Youth in Emergency Services (YES) programme.
"This is the highest number of nominations we've received in the three years the programme has been running in Northland," spokeswoman Shona Morgan said. "The nominations have come through schools and support service agencies, who have put forward the young people in their communities who could benefit from the experience."
They begin their hands-on training with St John and NZ Red Cross, learning triage, basic first aid and disaster ground-based rescue this weekend.
Over the next three weekends, the students will experience the work of emergency services including NZ Police, Coastguard, NZ Fire and Rural Fire.
They will also take part in emergency scenarios and a mock disaster.
Ms Morgan says the YES programme is designed to strengthen the connection between young people and their communities. The programme also helps participants develop practical skills, and encourages them to consider a career with emergency services.
"Participants from previous [Northland] programmes have gone on to become Fire Service volunteers and it's a great entry into what a career in the emergency services could look like."
Participants will attend a graduation ceremony with their families and are invited to volunteer for two months with the emergency service of their choice.