No, they did not have to hitchhike to Geraldine in South Canterbury last Sunday afternoon, but 10 students and two tutors from Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) Telford were quickly transported there as part of the student army helping the farming community in the region recover from the recent floods.
The idea was mooted by Otago Federated Farmers president Mark Patterson, who contacted Telford and asked if any students were prepared to help, much the same way as they had done previously at Fox Glacier.
The response was immediate, as 10 students from the certificate in farming systems course quickly put their hands up and asked staff to start planning for the five-day-long venture.
Student Jess Hollow said there was no doubt in her mind that this was an excellent way to help the farming community there.
“It will be a great learning experience for us all and we would love to help them recover,” she said.
Tutor and SIT Telford residential manager Daniel Maze said they did not quite know what they would be doing from their base in Geraldine but they were transporting a large trailer load of tools, chainsaws and fencing equipment up, ready to tackle anything the South Canterbury branch of Federated Farmers ask them to do.
“We expect it will be a lot of clearing of fence lines, removing trees and branches and that sort of clean-up work, plus a bit of refencing work. It will be hard work but the students are keen and ready to help out the best way they can,” he said.
SIT Telford’s programme manager Debbie Rankin said she was delighted that the students had responded so quickly to the call for assistance from farmers in the region.
“It’s so wonderful that we can be part of the clean-up. The bulk of the credit must go to the students who took up the case and were willing to give up their time to help people affected by these traumatic events,” she said.