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Primary industries and Massey Ag celebrate student success

Winners of Massey Agriculture Awards for 2020, from top left: Oliver Hammond, Sarah Tallon, Alex Hoek, Zane Williams, William Robertson, Yvonne van Baarle, Maddison Carrick, Chelsea Hopkins; from bottom left: Trudy Barrow, Hope Mauchline, Erika Lilley and Rebecca Bain.

Massey University’s next generation of agricultural and horticultural talent were celebrated at the 27th annual Agriculture Awards in Palmerston North on Friday evening.

The awards are traditionally held in October and this year were in the Sir Geoffrey Peren Auditorium on the university’s Manawatū campus. The awards celebrate student success and give industry and university staff a chance to network. This year the event had a change of format from previous years due to the ongoing pandemic, but the tradition of celebrating excellence in the agricultural and horticultural sector remains strong. The event was attended by more than 150 students, staff and industry representatives.

Massey University Pro Vice-Chancellor College of Sciences Professor Ray Geor said the importance of connections for the graduating class of 2020 in the current climate, is paramount. “The quality of the graduates from this year’s class have shown their resilience in the face of adversity to complete their qualifications and we are very proud of them as new alumni. We are celebrating their success tonight under very unusual circumstances, but we are proud of the fact that they will enter the primary industries, a key sector in New Zealand this year and every year. Massey’s strengths in agricultural and horticultural education continue to support new and established connections and enhance the network for everyone.”

One of the top two awards, the Fonterra Farm Source Massey Agriculture Student of the Year, went to Bachelor of AgriCommerce student William Robertson.

This year, and indeed his entire degree, have led to many opportunities and accolades.  His successes this year included being selected as one of 12 New Zealand based students to attend a food and beverage supply-chain virtual study tour of Shanghai (run by North Asia Centre of Asia Pacific Excellence  and Globalink Internships Ltd) and as part of the second placed team (the other members in the team were Alex Tomkins, Kazi Talaska and Euphemia Tan) in the International Food Marketing Challenge announced just days before the awards.  These experiences for William come on the back of a six-month exchange with Shanghai University, a Prime Minister’s Scholarship and an educational visit to Indonesia in 2019.

William’s award was not only presented for academic success.  The Massey Agriculture Student of the Year is also selected on their contribution to the well-being of their fellow students and enhancing the reputation of agricultural study. William was chairperson of the Massey University Young Farmer’s Club, the largest such club in New Zealand, and he also helped organise the Massey Horticulture Society. In these roles, he ensured that the ag/hort students managed to participate in many of the usual activities run by these clubs despite the many challenges caused by COVID-19 restrictions.   William was also awarded the Young Farmers Club Sally Hobson Award for service to the club, as voted by members of the Massey club.

“William has put in an excellent performance this year in all criteria for the Massey Agriculture Student of the Year Award,” the selection committee said. “Not only has he represented Massey University agriculture and horticulture exceedingly well on the international and national stage, he was also one of the top students in his year group academically and still found the time to play for the Massey University Under-21 A rugby team for the three years he was at Massey.  And he also made time to help fellow students with their work and assist with promotional activities for the university.”

The other top award, the William Gerrish Memorial Prize, was awarded to Bachelor of AgriCommerce student Maddison Carrick. The prize is for meritorious performance in various farm management papers and for demonstrating a high level of personal integrity, intellectual curiosity, vision and social conscience. The recipient must be interested in a career in farm management or agricultural economics.

Farm and Agribusiness Management Professor Nicola Shadbolt said the short list for the prize contained three outstanding students who had excelled in their studies.  “Miss Carrick had performed exceptionally well on the farm management courses at Massey. Maddison has an exciting vision for the future of agriculture.  She always goes the extra mile to assist her peers and others. She has an intellectual curiosity that has led to an internship and more importantly, an offer of employment already. She has also undertaken additional farm work to provide substance to her chosen career as a farm consultant”.

During the evening, 15 awards were presented to students from all levels of the agriculture, horticulture and agricommerce degree programmes.  A recent graduate, Kate Stewart, provided an entertaining and inspirational address to the guests, talking about her experiences with her career to date and the importance of connections between professionals. Sponsors and industry representatives were welcomed from more than 20 different agricultural companies from across the sector. Massey University would like to thank and acknowledge the sponsors of the main prizes for the evening: Ravensdown, Zespri, Ballance Agrinutrients, Corteva Agriscience, Farm Source Fonterra, the Gerrish family, NZ Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science and the Rural News Group.

Full list of award recipients

Sally Hobson Award for Service to the Young Farmers Club: William Robertson

Massey University Award for Excellence in Horticulture, sponsored by Zespri: Alex Hoek

NZ Institute of Agricultural & Horticultural Science Leading Student Award: Sarah Tallon

Rural News Group Photo Competition: Zane Williams

First Year Academic Awards, sponsored by Corteva Agriscience

First: Trudy Barrow

Second: Erika Lilley

Third: Oliver Hammond

Second Year Academic Awards, sponsored by Ballance Agrinutrients

First: Hope Mauchline

Second: Rebecca Bain  

Third: Chelsea Hopkins

Third Year Academic Awards, sponsored by Ravensdown

First: Zane Williams

Second: Alex Hoek

Third: Yvonne van Baarle

William Gerrish Memorial Award for Farm Management: Maddison Carrick

Massey Agriculture Student of the Year Award, sponsored by Farm Source Fonterra: William Robertson.


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