Damian Buckley has rediscovered his roots after joining the ranks of Ag Challenge in Whanganui.

The 51-year-old Englishman joined the private training establishment as a tutor in September last year delivering the Level 3 VMI (Vehicles Machinery and Infrastructure) course.

Born and raised in a rural setting in Leicestershire, a landlocked county in the English Midlands, Buckley has a degree in agricultural marketing and one of his first jobs was working for Britain's's largest strawberry grower in the packaging department.

"I grew up in a rural setting and drove my first Landrover at 11 and was turning hay when I was 14," Buckley said.


However, much of his working life has been spend in management roles, many of them off-farm, including a 12-month stint working with coconut growers in Samoa.

"I first came to New Zealand in 1996 and met and married a Kiwi girl. A lot of my working life has been in management, although I have kept up a strong relationship with the primary industry," Buckley said.

"I worked for Farmers Weekly as a sales and business manager and also spent time with a rural-based software company. I have a varied skill set and I think that stands me in good stead for this job at Ag Challenge.

"The VMI course is all about handling the motors. Riding a motorbike, driving a tractor, using a chainsaw and even positioning a fence. The students learn to do it right and to do it safely. My students are a great and varied bunch ranging in age from 16 to 39 and eager to learn."

The 15-week L3 VMI course can lead to jobs as a general hand, junior shepherd, farm assistant, or in other similar roles in rural-based workplaces. Or it can lead to further study, including Next Generation Farming Systems Technology Level 3 and Milk Harvesting Technology Level 3.