Management course both practical and flexible

Taranaki has the highest number of enrolments in New Zealand for AgITO's National Diploma in Agribusiness Management, and a high percentage of graduates, says customer relationship advisor Emma Collins.

She says it is not just the knowledge gained that benefits farmers, but the ongoing networking between alumni.

Toko farmer Gemma Smith is one farmer who has successfully completed the course.

She started in 2010 and finished last year. One of the main advantages for her was being able to fit her study around her work on the farm and her family.

"Having them [their family] with us and having them see us work hard is what I like," she says.

Gemma and partner Troy Caskey are 50:50 sharemilkers on Troy's parents' farm.

Her motivation to enrol was mainly to learn more about budgeting.

"But, it has taught me so much more. The whole course is much more in-depth than I expected."

She and Troy have now drawn up a business plan and fine-tuned where they are heading and how to get there.

She enrolled for a general business course straight after school, but did not finish it.

"It was not really what I was interested in. This diploma is practical and right where I am at," she says.

Initially she wanted to do the course through correspondence only, but the training advisor talked her into attending classes.

She says it was the "best decision ever".

"Talking to other people - that is where you learn the most."

She says it is essential for farmers to stay on top of changing regulations and that she has a few more years of study in mind, including some around effluent management.

For more information about the course, see page 19.

- Stratford Press

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