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Win for Gisborne plant specialist

GISBORNE senior technical analyst and researcher Shanna Hickling has won the New Zealand Plant Producers annual “Young Achievers Award”, judged and presented at the organisation’s NZPPI (New Zealand Plant Producers Inc) conference in Hamilton this week.

The 25-year-old, who works for Riversun Nursery, was one of three finalists who underwent a series of theory and practical tests in the competition final.

The award was presented to her at a gala dinner on Wednesday night in Hamilton.

“It felt great to win it, really nice, because there was some good competition,” she said.

Shanna is the daughter of Grant and Kerry Hickling from Rere.

She has a Bachelor of Science degree with a double major in microbiology and genetics from Massey University, graduating in 2014.

She has worked for Riversun for the past four years in the research and development field, and currently works as a senior technical analyst and researcher.

It is a temporary role as she transitions from the research department, where she was project manager, to second in charge of Linnaeus Laboratory.

“The final involved an interview, an Excel spreadsheet problem, there was a pruning challenge, a section on pest and disease identification, plant identification, a series of questions on soil-less media, and a section on hygiene in nursery practices,” Shanna said.

“In addition to her work at Riversun Shanna takes a lead role in promoting the opportunities in horticulture to students, taking time to talk to schools and at industry events,” the competition organisers said.

“Shanna has a commitment and passion for the industry which she would like to share with young people.”

The award, sponsored by Horticentre Trust and HortFertplus, aims to reward and encourage young people who excel in their chosen career.

Shanna received a trophy to hold for one year, a framed certificate and a five day trip for two to Melbourne, taking in the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show.

She will represent the nursery and garden industry in The Young Horticulturist of the Year where young people from all sectors of horticulture come together to compete for the title and a raft of valuable prizes.

HORT FINALIST: Shanna Hickling from Gisborne won the New Zealand Plant Producers(NZPPI) annual “Young Achievers Award”, and the plant analyst and researcher is now a finalist in the 'Young Horticulturist of the Year' competition. File picture