New game introduces students to intricacies of agricultural sector

Issue: Volume 102, Number 8

Posted: 22 June 2023
Reference #: 1HAaWJ

A new board game hoping to address the need for more workers in the agricultural sector will be introduced to secondary school students this year.

The new board game, Grow was launched last year at the Fieldays Opportunity Grows Here Careers Hub.

The new board game, Grow was launched last year at the Fieldays Opportunity Grows Here Careers Hub.

Grow is a new board game that takes a holistic approach to food production education.

Kerry Allen, project director of the Agribusiness in Schools programme based at St Paul’s Collegiate School,  says the game shows students there is more to primary industries than waking up at 4am every day to milk cows.

It aims to encourage students to broaden their minds when thinking of agribusiness and primary industry careers – they could become a designer leading the marketing of Silver Fern Farms in Japan, or an accountant for Fonterra working in downtown Auckland. 

“There are different roles you can play in the value chain; the grower, the marketer, the truck driver … The opportunities are huge,” says Kerry.

St Paul’s Collegiate School students, staff and project partners at the launch of the Grow board game.

St Paul’s Collegiate School students, staff and project partners at the launch of the Grow board game.

The game, which took 18 months to develop, was officially launched last year at the Fieldays Opportunity Grows Here Careers Hub.

It was developed in a joint initiative between Te Whare Wānaka o Aoraki Lincoln University, the Agribusiness in Schools Programme and Rabobank.  

The game, which can be played by up to six players, addresses all the major topics studied in agribusiness, including food production’s financial, social and environmental aspects.

“Think Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit-style,” says Kerry.

The game also includes elements of mātauranga Māori. 

Daily realities of being an agricultural worker

Each player starts with a piece of land and an amount of money. They then get to choose whether to operate a dairy, beef, sheep, viticulture, horticulture or arable farming operation. 

As players move around the board, they earn money which allows them to purchase assets needed to operate their farm.

To purchase the asset, however, the student must correctly answer a question related to what they’ve been learning.  These questions are themed on real-life topics including soil composition, biodiversity, weather patterns, biosecurity and biological processes. 

“It’s designed so students can easily understand the intricacies and complexities of running a primary business. It’s not like the corner store where generally every day is similar. Some things happen in the primary sector which you have no control over, such as weather or exchange rate,” says Kerry. 

“We want students to also understand the management side of running farms; it’s a business. You’ve got to be profitable and meet laws and regulations. You’ve got to ensure you’re meeting sustainable goals and ethical and cultural needs. It’s not just about growing a good crop of carrots.”

Game supports learning

Kerry says the questions align with social science and science learning areas. However, teachers also have room to create their own questions based on their students’ learning interests and needs. 

In this way, students can learn about geography and other scientific subjects too. 

“Teachers are adaptable so they can re-write the questions or help out with some answers,” Kerry says.

Agribusiness is being developed in The New Zealand Curriculum and as an NCEA subject at Levels 2 and 3, to be implemented in 2026 and 2027 respectively.

The Ministry of Primary Industries has made a call for 50,000 more skilled workers, and wants to introduce more students to the broad scope of careers within the primary sector. 

“We still haven’t met that shortfall in the primary sector, which hasn’t traditionally been seen as a good place for people to go into. But there are huge opportunities in the sector. The pay is good. You can get a car, phone, a house, meat and fruit, and international travel,” says Kerry.

“We want to show the primary sector is a good place to start your career. This game will help with that too.”


Designed to meet industry challenges

Rabobank had originally met with its Upper South Island Client Council and Lincoln University to discuss agricultural industry challenges.

“Over recent years the council has worked closely alongside the university to develop initiatives to highlight to school students the range of career opportunities within the sector,” says Rabobank CEO Todd Charteris.

One of the topics that regularly came up during the conversations was the need to support students’ learning on food production. New Zealand is a world leader in exporting primary food products and this plays an essential role in our economy. 

How we produce food shapes our daily lives. From this, the idea of Grow was born.

Kerry says the tactile element of teaching via a board game can be a novelty for students in a digital age.

“The game also brings back some old-fashioned togetherness for group work.”

The board game will be rolled out later this year to more than 200 schools nationwide that teach Agribusiness and Agricultural and Horticultural Science. 

If there is enough interest in the game, it may be made available to all secondary schools in New Zealand. 

Kerry has already had requests for the game from some primary and intermediate schools. 

She says by the end of this year, hopefully 5,000 students will have played the game.

Read more about how agribusiness offers important skills for the future(external link) in Education Gazette online.

 Opportunity Grow

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 10:47 am, 22 June 2023

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