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‘Ag’ talents get developed

A new crop of talented university graduates have begun to build careers in New Zealand’s rapidly changing agricultural industry thanks to Ravensdown’s development programme.

The successful initiative — now in its fifth year — has supported 39 university graduates with degrees in agricultural-related, environmental and related disciplines into fulltime careers in the sector.

“What is especially interesting is the variety of backgrounds those who have completed the programme come from,” said Ravensdown training manager and mentor Gordon McCormick.

“It’s not just those from rural backgrounds — there’s an increasing number of urban people looking to take part, who see big opportunities in what’s a very dynamic agricultural industry,” he said.

This year the programme supported seven graduates into work.

One was Timaru’s Laura Cockroft.

“I’m not from a farming background but from a young age I had an interest in agriculture and spent my holidays working on farms in South Canterbury,” Laura said.

“Now that I’ve finished my Bachelor of Agriculture from Lincoln University, I’m super-excited to join the programme and hopefully secure an agri manager position with Ravensdown.”

Claire Verhaegh, who began her agricultural career journey on her parents’ dairy farm in Riverton, was also excited to be in this year’s intake.

“I applied for the programme because I truly believe that every person at Ravensdown had a similar belief towards agriculture as me.

“If New Zealand is to continue farming successfully, we have to embrace smarter farming — something that’s more important now than ever.”

At the start of each year Ravensdown takes on a group of graduates and provides them with a wide range of opportunities to gain experience in different fields of the co-operative before they head into full-time positions.

CAREER BOUND: Claire Verhaegh and Laura Cockroft were among seven university graduates assisted by the Ravensdown development programme this year. Both said they were excited to be part of the programe, and be part of the development of ‘smarter farming’. Picture supplied