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Farming friends . . . Katie Richardson (left) and Imogen Keeling were presented with their North Otago Federated Farmers and FMG rural tertiary scholarship certificates last week. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Imogen Keeling and Katie Richardson are the recipients of this year’s North Otago Federated Farmers and FMG rural tertiary scholarships.

The annual scholarship awards are open to North Otago secondary school pupils who plan to extend their studies to agriculture or horticulture. Imogen and Katie (both 17) were this year’s successful applicants, awarded $2000 and $500 respectively to go towards their tertiary studies.

Imogen, who went to St Hilda’s Collegiate in Dunedin, is heading to the University of Canterbury to study engineering next year. She has a particular interest in mechatronics with a future application in the agricultural sector.

“I have always had an interest in maths and technology, so I figured engineering would be a path that could cover both areas,” she said.

Imogen grew up on a Duntroon dairy farm that has been owned by her family for more than a century, and said she wanted to stay involved with agriculture and help create more sustainable solutions.

“The history of the farm has been a huge factor in my goal-making as I want to help keep farming sustainable,” she said.

“So, at the moment, my main goal is to head towards the agri-tech sector.”

She was delighted to receive the $2000 scholarship, and hoped to be able to contribute to Federated Farmers in the future.

“I was so excited to find out that the North Otago Fed Farmers had the confidence in me to achieve my goals, and that they wanted to help me get there. It motivates me further as I now know that there are other people who believe in me.”

Katie recently completed year 13 at St Kevin’s College, and plans to study environmental management at Lincoln University next year.

An interest in agriculture stemmed from growing up on a dairy farm in the Waitaki Plains, but she never felt that milking cows was something she wanted to pursue.

She was looking forward to studying environmental management, and hoped to apply her knowledge in the rural sector in the future, but did not have any particular career goals in mind just yet.

She was thrilled to receive a $500 merit award from North Otago Federated Farmers.

“I felt it was a scholarship that was a great fit for the industry I want to go into and thought it was a great opportunity that I didn’t want to miss out on, as well as being able to discuss my opinions on different important topics in the agricultural industry today,” she said.

Over summer, Katie is working at Alliance Pukeuri and helping on the farm, while Imogen is working in a cafe.

North Otago Federated Farmers secretary Jan Wheeler said the interview panel was impressed by the high standard of applications this year.

“Every one of them did exceptionally well and the interview panel was very impressed with their community involvement, attitudes, knowledge and focus on their future careers in New Zealand farming and business,” Mrs Wheeler said.