Seventeen Racers learn about local culture, diverse farming operations

MURRAY, Ky. — Seventeen Murray State University students recently flew more than 17,558 miles to study agriculture in New Zealand. To join this program, students were selected from a pool of applicants. After acceptance into the program students began a half semester course to study the country before visiting. 

From there, students flew into Auckland for a trip to the Auckland War Memorial Museum to learn more about the Maori people and the natural history of New Zealand. During the first day, students gained firsthand experience of local culture. 

“Early in the trip, we got to experience a Maori Hangi feast, and we were lucky enough to be able to spend some time with their tribe and learn about their culture,” said Murray State junior Jacob Landmann of Saint Louis, Missouri. “I was appointed chief of our waka (canoe), and I led us from station to station to see several different cultural and traditional aspects of their tribe.”

Racers had the opportunity to learn about several agricultural operations in the country. In Matamata, the group visited a 650-head dairy farm. At Haldon Station, students toured sheep, cattle, and deer operations. And in Dannevirke, students witnessed 1,690 composite ewes (female sheep), 282 Friesian bulls and grazing in steep paddocks.

Seventeen Murray State University students recently flew more than 17,558 miles to study agriculture in New Zealand.

Many participating students stayed and worked on local producers’ operations, ranging from raspberry, vegetable, dairy, sheep, swine, deer and horse operations.

“My favorite farm visit was Haldon Station in the Mackenzie Basin,” said Kade Gambill, a senior from Sandoval, Illinois. “Getting to witness how deer velvet is harvested and seeing over 13,000 acres of grassland was amazing.”

Horticulture production tours on the program include apple orchards in Clive, the oldest winery in New Zealand-Mission Estate, gold kiwi from Kiwi Produce Ltd. and potatoes and onions on the Hewson Farm.

Top destinations throughout the trip included the Moeraki Boulders along New Zealand’s Otago coast, Huka Falls — where nearly 60,000 gallons of water barrels over the falls every second — and hiking over four hours for the best views in what’s known as “The bush.”

The Hutson School of Agriculture has an upstanding tradition of studying abroad in numerous countries including Scotland, Argentina, Ireland, Belize, Panama, Hungary and many others. Upcoming agriculture programs include Argentina in 2020 and Ireland in 2021.