It has been an exciting and rewarding 6 months for Gillian, a Food Technology teacher from Christchurch. She has spent most of her time working at Westland Milk Products processing plant in Hokitika and has been really fortunate in being able to follow the whole process from collecting milk on the farm through to the production of finished products for the customers. Her hosts were Paula Hewer (Compliance manager) and Tracey Feary (Food Scientist).
Working directly with the quality assurance department enabled Gillian to gain a greater understanding of how regulations underpin manufacturing procedures, product development and product quality/consistency. Gillian has spent time working in all parts of the processing plant and this has meant that she has been able to acquire an overview of the business and achieve an understanding of primary processing and technology as well as all food safety and quality procedures that are involved in producing dairy products for export.
Gillian has also had opportunities to take part in training sessions for professionals in the food industry on food labelling and sensory analysis and to attend the NZIFST conference all of which will relate back to the classroom.
Now that Gillian has witnessed commercial food processing operations at close quarters she is equipped with better knowledge and real life examples that directly relate to the Technology Curriculum which she can use to enhance teaching and learning when she returns to school. This has also given her an insight into the vast opportunities available in the industry and clarified the importance of technology education and the need for schools to encourage the possibility of students pursuing a career in the food industry.
Gillian would like to acknowledge the New Zealand Science, Mathematics and Technology Endeavour Teacher Fellowship Scheme for enabling her to have this rewarding opportunity and she would like to thank Michael Teen, Paula Hewer and Tracey Feary from Westland Milk Products and the NZIFST for their guidance and support.