The standard of applicants for the Rural Tertiary Scholarship this year was so high that three awards were made.
The annual $2000 scholarship is given out by North Otago Federated Farmers and ANZ Bank to a North Otago or Hakataramea pupil in the final year at secondary school or on a gap year and who is going on to study agriculture, horticulture, or viticulture.
This year’s winner was Ellen Swanson, from St Kevin’s College.
Merit awards of $500 each were presented to Sophie Hawkins and Mackenzie Phillips, both from Waitaki Girls’ High School.
Ellen is a boarder at St Kevin’s.
Her home is Totara Peak Station, on the shores of Lake Benmore about 22km from Twizel.
She said she loved being in the school hostel for the past five years.
Next year she is starting a bachelor’s degree in food marketing and agribusiness at Lincoln University. She wants to keep her career options open but is considering marketing relating to the sheep and beef industry she has grown up in.
Between school finishing and the university year starting, she will work as an AI assistant at morning and night, seven days a week. That would help her become more conversant with the dairy sector, she said.
Ellen has applied for a place in the Lincoln halls of residence but rooms have not yet been allocated. Her scholarship will go towards her accommodation costs.
The keen netballer had contemplated having a year off the sport but decided to continue playing at Lincoln as a way to meet more people.
Sophie is also going to Lincoln, to study for a four-year bachelor of agricultural science degree. She has not chosen a major yet, preferring to “see how it goes”.
Possible career moves include becoming a livestock agent, farm manager, or orchard manager.
Sophie, who lives at Waitaki Bridge, has studied agriculture since year 10 and now chairs the Waitaki Girls’ Young Farmers Club.
Her award would be a welcome help with her hall of residence costs, she said.
Mackenzie will join her fellow award-winners at Lincoln University, where she will begin a bachelor of science degree next year.
Her goal is to work in the animal and genetics field.
Mackenzie, a day pupil at Waitaki Girls’, studied agriculture up to year 12.
North Otago Federated Farmers president Jared Ross said it was important to encourage young people to take up careers in the primary sector, where the range of opportunities was like no other.
“There is something for everyone, as you can choose from a vast spectrum of physical farming activity, rural professional options or the service, education and research/ technology industries.
“The latter is critical to meeting some of the current ambitious objectives we are tackling with regards to maintaining food production with increasing climate and environmental responsibility.”