Saturday, April 13, 2024

How Cyclone Gabrielle set a young man’s course to ag studies

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Lincoln students wins Ravensdown’s Hugh Williams Memorial Scholarship.
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Several “scary” days of not being able to contact his home in Gisborne during Cyclone Gabrielle convinced Lincoln University student Ryan Redpathhe wanted a career that would help improve the ability of farms to deal with natural disasters.

Redpath, 18, is starting his second year of study towards a Bachelor of Agriculture and Commerce and has been named this year’s recipient of Ravensdown’s Hugh Williams Memorial Scholarship.

He will use the $5000 scholarship to help fund course fees and travel between university and the family farm in rural Gisborne.

Redpath wants to focus his studies on how the sector can increase its resilience to weather events after Cyclone Gabrielle hit his parent’s sheep and beef farm in February last year.

“I was a week into university when Cyclone Gabrielle hit the Gisborne region. I couldn’t contact home for a while which was a bit scary.

“It had a massive impact on our rural community. A lot of people lost effective land and tracks throughout their farm.

 “I think it’ll become more important to diversify farm income streams that give off-farm income outside the usual stock profits. Finding different ways to diversify will ensure we can keep farming into the future.” 

Garry Diack, Ravensdown CEO, said it was Redpath’s academic excellence and dedication that won him the scholarship.

“Agriculture is under increasing pressure, from global supply chain disruption to climate events. It’s great to see the new thinking coming through from students like Ryan, and we’re proud to be able to support him in his studies.”

Redpath said winning the scholarship is a big deal and will help with financial pressure and enable him to get back to Gisborne during study breaks.

“Growing up on the farm, I was always interested in agriculture. Dad was a big influence and invested a lot of time to teach me how to do things the right way,” he said.

Redpath said his agriculture teacher at Napier Boys’ High School, Rex Newman, helped develop his interest into a passion.

“Rex supported me and the other boys, and inspired us to stick with the subject. He helped set goals and worked hard with us to achieve them.”

In his last year of school, Redpath sat NCEA scholarship exams for agriculture and horticulture, and placed second in the country. 

His courses at Lincoln are helping him work out where he wants to be in the future.

“I’m definitely keeping my options open, but I’m keen to use my skills to help farmers, like in rural banking or as a field representative.”

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