Thirty-seven intrepid university students from across the United States have rounded off a six week expedition and internship programme which saw them do everything from bungy-jumping and sky-diving to testing the sugar content of apples and tracking kiwi.
Students from 14 universities including Michigan State, George Washington University and University of Illinois visited New Zealand as part of a new six week study abroad programme organised by Massey University’s Institute of Agriculture and Environment and Centre for Professional and Continuing Education (PaCE).
Beginning the study tour portion of the trip in Queenstown with an overnight trip the historic 100,000 acre high-country sheep station on Mount Nicholas, the students made their way up the country covering the Franz Josef glacier, the Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki, vineyards in the Marlborough Sounds, Tongariro National Park, dairy farms in the Waikato, geothermal areas in Taupo and Rotorua.
Erin Gumpper from Michigan State jumps into her New Zealand experience with a bungy jump in Taupo.
They then began their internships with agrifood industry and environmental leaders in the Hawke’s Bay including the free-range chicken farm Bostock Organic, the Department of Conservation, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, premium global food manufactures GreenMount Foods and Fish and Game New Zealand.
The trip concluded this week with an intensive block course at Massey University in Palmerston North where they could earn university credits by writing up a series of case studies from the wool, wine and dairy industries they encountered along their trip.
University of Tennessee Zoology student Hannah Hazelwinkel said the internship gave her "real-world" experience. "It was amazing to get to do conservation work and see what that was like" she said. "The highlight for me was tracking kiwi and pateke [brown teal]."
Sarah Slack from Colorado State tracking pateke for her internship with the Department of Conservation.
Programme co-ordinator Christina Baldarelli says the trip is a lot of fun but also a great learning experience.
"Students gain an understanding of the intricate relationships between agricultural and environmental issues in New Zealand and how these shape the everyday lives of Kiwis and the country as a whole."
"From Massey’s perspective, it’s a great way for to engage with the business community in the Hawke’s Bay."
She says developments are underway to expand the programme in 2016 to include agribusiness, emergency management and communications.
Jesse Whitfield from Michigan State preparing for her internship (with Boutique Horse Treks in Clive,Hawke's Bay) while she was on the South Island.