While farming is seen as a traditional career, the modern agriculture industry is rapidly changing and offers lucrative opportunities to those looking for a rewarding career outdoors.

Gary Nant, a Taupo-based farm manager, has seen these benefits first-hand. Having hired four graduates of Toi Ohomai's New Zealand Certificate in Agriculture (Farming Systems) (Level 3), with one now his 2IC, he says he enjoys seeing the students learn on his farm as part of their studies.

"The hands-on component of this course shows me that if the students can consistently do a whole year of study, they actually want this career."

A good 'leg' into the industry, Gary feels Toi Ohomai relieves pressure on employers by indicating that recipients of the qualification have already been taught farming basics to a set standard.

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"Being able to talk to tutor Mel Church is invaluable. She's from industry and that makes a huge difference. We can trust her opinion on the strengths of each student and who suits our needs.

"However, it is unfortunate that the attitude is still out there that farming is what you do when you can't do anything. The reality is I've got four children working in agriculture, two earn over $100,000 a year. There are just so many different careers you can enjoy within farming."

One of Gary's four employed Toi Ohomai graduates, Shannon Grey, grew up on a sheep and beef farm in Gisborne before her family moved to Taupo.

Despite her previous farming experience, she says she chose to study at Toi Ohomai to gain the qualifications needed by the modern farming industry.

"Toi Ohomai helped refresh everything I knew. My tutor, Mel, is the best person to teach farming you could ask for. Some of my classmates had never done farming before, but Mel made sure that no one got left behind."

Having gained employment as a casual worker with Gary during her level 3 studies, Shannon is now employed with Gary fulltime on a modern rotary farm handling over 1000 cows.

"Here, the farm offers ongoing training opportunities to increase your farming skills. In dairy, though, if you wanted to go hard, you can generally get into management in three to four years."

Having tried town living while working in hospitality, Shannon felt neither lifestyle was for her and returned to farming where she feels every day is different.

"Getting into Toi Ohomai and getting this job was mean. It's like getting back to reality.
"If you are an outdoors person, farming is the life."