Justin Todd has almost come full circle.
The newly appointed Ag Challenge agricultural tutor travelled the world farming after beginning his career in Paul Gudsell's Okoia dairy shed on an Access Scheme programme in 1990.
Back in those early days Gudsell's brother, Stephen, was just forming the fledgling Ag Challenge.
Nearly 30 years on Todd is adding considerable expertise to the Ag Challenge mix delivering a Level 2 general farming skills programme through the secondary school system that leads into more comprehensive Level 3 courses.
After several years honing his dairy farming skills in Whanganui during the early 1990s, Todd moved on to greener pastures in the United Kingdom broadening his horizons in the sheep and beef industry and in cropping and horticulture.
"I moved back to New Zealand in 1998 with my wife whom I met in the UK and spent time sharemilking in Canterbury and Horowhenua. We are in the process of moving back to Whanganui, although I have been working at Ag Challenge for about two months now delivering a farming skills programme," Todd said.
"The Level 2 farming skills course is fees free and the next intake is September 17. Then we have a 15-week VMI (Vehicle, Machinery, Infrastructure) Level 3 course that dovetails nicely with the Farming System Technology (24 weeks) or the Milk Harvesting (22 weeks) courses for people already in employment.
"There is one or two days a week in class and we have roving field officers that sign off on credits in the workplace. The VMI is running in schools now and the 15 weeks are spread over the year," Todd said.
While Ag Challenge already has an enviable record linking graduates to fulltime employment, the agriculture industry, and in particular dairying, is still hungry for skilled workers.
Todd said there was something available at Ag Challenge for anyone keen on making farming their career.