Ag Challenge – for Real World Experience with Practical Hands-on Training
Ag Challenge is a registered New Zealand Qualification Authority (NZQA) accredited training provider, offering real world experience with practical hands-on training in the fields of Agriculture, Animal Care and Technology, and Building and Construction.
The practical experience is gained on two dairy farms milking 1200 cows, a building site where students build a complete relocatable classroom and the opportunity to be based in an operating Veterinary Clinic.
Ag Challenge was born over 30 years ago out of a relationship between Stephen Gudsell, property owner, with the then Department of Social Welfare to take small groups of clients and teach them basic dairying skills on his farm in Okoia, Wanganui East. Many of the clients were later able to find jobs in the dairy industry.
This led to the formation of Ag Challenge Limited and accreditation with NZQA in 1996. This allowed the formalisation of the education and training programmes and coincided with a strong demand from industry sectors for employees with formal qualifications in their field.
Ag Challenge currently offers training from Level 1 to Level 5 in Agriculture, Animal Care and Technology, and Building and Construction.
The Agriculture programmes continue to focus on Dairy Farming but also include references to sheep and beef as well. NZQA’s Targeted Review of Qualifications involved industry in designing these new qualifications and now sees Ag Challenge delivering the latest and best focussed agricultural programmes.
The programmes range from foundation level right through to farming systems technology and include more focussed options such as dairy milk harvesting, and vehicles and machinery.
Animal Care and Technology
Ag Challenge has enjoyed a cooperative relationship with Wanganui Vet Services (WVS) over the years with WVS originally delivering the animal technology training portion of one of their earlier qualifications. This arrangement led to the Veterinary Nursing programme set up in 2000. Since then the Animal Technology programmes have continued to be delivered by Ag Challenge tutors at WVS, which have the unique advantage of being delivered in an operating Veterinary Clinic.
Animal Care and Technology programmes focus on the care, and health and wellbeing of companion animals like cats and dogs, all the way through to large animals such as horses.
Building, Construction and Allied Trades
Building and construction has played a significant part in the Ag Challenge portfolio of programmes and includes foundation level training right through to the required theory components of building apprenticeships. Ag Challenge continues to work with industry to deliver work ready graduates.
Short Courses for Industry
Ag Challenge provides focussed courses for industry and can be tailored to specific organisations such as: Chainsaws, Quad Bike Safety, Milk Harvesting, Fencing, Tractor Safety, and more.
Ag Challenge offers one to two day programmes for secondary school students who are still at school giving them not only the opportunity to gain NCEA credits but also invaluable life experiences working on a farm or a building site.
Gateway Distance Learning is also available where schools or individuals can purchase NZQA unit standards and study at their own pace.
Work and Income clients on a Jobseekers Benefit wanting to get into full time employment are supported with the Ag Challenge Jobs programme. Students can stay on the benefit while they complete a 13 week programme to gain skills and be work ready. Once accepted on the course, students can get help with costs associated with getting employment like clothing, driver’s licences and travel costs. Networking with the community is a big part of assisting clients to get work.
Sponsorship and our Community
Ag Challenge is active in sponsoring community-based initiatives, mainly in the sporting field, especially those associated with young people, such as the Under 13 rep tennis, U16 Wanganui rugby and school sports teams like rugby.
Mr Gudsell, owner and director, is also a keen horse racing man and for over ten years has been sponsoring one of the ‘listed’ races on the National Racing Calendar at the Whanganui Races each Queen’s Birthday weekend, under the name of the Ag Challenge Stakes.
“It’s part of our philosophy and a way of paying back a community that has supported us over the years,” says Mr Gudsell. He is also a great believer in supporting local, so Ag Challenge always buy local where they can.
The Ag Challenge Culture
Ag Challenge has around 20 staff with 12 tutors, who all have real world experience and are either working or have worked in their fields. They are all committed to giving all students a chance no matter what their backgrounds are or their abilities might be. The motto of Ag Challenge is ‘Challenging students to challenge their futures.”
The organisation goes out of its way to provide students with every chance to succeed. They are able to host students from across New Zealand through working with their partners and relationships to provide either private board or hostel student living locally.
All their programmes are New Zealand Qualifications Authority approved and qualify for assistance from Studylink.
Contact Ag Challenge on 0800 348 8215.
Talk to us to find out more.
We can meet you and your young person and talk through the options.
We’re happy for him or her to spend an afternoon and up to a few days out on one of our courses to make sure it’s the right choice for everyone.