St Paul’s wins at biosecurity awards

St Paul’s wins at biosecurity awards From left: St Paul's Associate Headmaster Ainsley Robson, Deputy General Biosecurity New Zealand Penny Nelson, Agribusiness Project Curriculum Director Kerry Allen and Agribusiness Advisor Melanie Simmons.

17 November 2020

St Paul’s agribusiness programme has been recognised for its outstanding contribution to protecting New Zealand’s environment from pests and diseases.

The school has won the inaugural kura/school award in the Ministry for Primary Industries’ 2020 New Zealand Biosecurity Awards thanks to a new unit of work written to help New Zealand students better understand biosecurity within NCEA Level 3 agribusiness.

The achievement standard, which has been made available to all New Zealand secondary schools as part of the agribusiness subject, covers the impacts of biosecurity on the primary industry and the types of practices in place, while allowing students to come up with their own innovative future proofing ideas.

“We’re lucky to have a world class biosecurity system, however unless students have a direct connection with it, their knowledge is usually very limited,” says Agribusiness Project Curriculum Director, Mrs Kerry Allen.

“We wanted to improve this and initially went out looking for content that would help us do that, but nothing seemed to be available. So, we developed and implemented a suite of schemes and resources ourselves, using different biosecurity contexts, that would give students a greater understanding of this complex issue.”

Kerry says that each unit has been designed to outline New Zealand’s national biosecurity responses, which then provides a framework for the rest of the programme.

“Students then delve into the regional responses to biosecurity, such as what regional and local councils are implementing. They also analyse individual agribusinesses such as a kiwifruit orchard or a dairy farm and work out what future proofing strategies these business owners could implement,” she says.

“They can come up with their own solutions to prevent, mitigate or solve the biosecurity problem and it’s impressive to see their innovative ideas, many that could have commercial benefits.”

The award was presented by Penny Nelson, Deputy-General Biosecurity New Zealand, at a black-tie event held at the Beehive in Wellington last night.

Penny recognised that many Kiwi kids in their schools understand the importance of biosecurity, how challenging it is and how they can contribute, so wanted to set up an award to celebrate that.

Judges were impressed by St Paul’s and the interconnectedness they had created between community and business, putting agriculture and biosecurity together in a learning system, and making the programme available for everyone to use.

“St Paul’s were taking a real step up, integrating into mainstream and putting biosecurity at the programme’s core,” said the judges. They were inspired and interested to watch where this programme goes. It even made some of the judges want to be back in school!

St Paul’s along with business partners, DairyNZ, Beef+Lamb NZ, AGMARDT, Meat Industries Association, Gallagher, Rabobank and Fairview Motors, have made the agribusiness programme available to 93 schools within NZ. It is now their desire that every secondary school in NZ will help implement the biosecurity contextualised achievement standard through the new agribusiness subject, improving knowledge right across the country.

Other sector partners including BNZ, Zoetis, NZ National Fieldays, Greenlea, Waikato Milking Systems Waitomo Petroleum, AGrowQuip, Campbell Tyson and TetraPak were involved in the development of the agribusiness national curriculum.