The top six students from Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa Massey University’s agricultural science, agribusiness, animal science, horticulture, earth and environmental sciences have been named.
The 30th annual awards evening in Palmerston North also celebrated the winner of the William Gerrish Award, the top award of the evening.
This year’s winner was Alyssa Hayes, a distance Bachelor of Agribusiness student from Eketāhuna, majoring in farm management. Hayes has a keen interest in farm management as a result of helping out on her friend’s mother’s sheep and beef farm and is looking forward to finishing her degree next year.
The awards bring together students, industry partners and educators to celebrate undergraduate students and reward excellence inside and outside the classroom.
The award is made possible by the Gerrish family in memory of Bill Gerrish who championed an annual prize to recognise an outstanding Massey student in farm management. The student also needs to demonstrate a high level of personal integrity, intellectual curiosity, vision and social conscience.
The awards focus on the university’s New Zealand No 1-ranked areas of agriculture, horticulture, animal science, earth science and environmental science – all disciplines that are crucial to the primary industries. Sponsors relating to these disciplines celebrated with students at the dinner.
The top students this year in agriculture and horticulture were Harriet Halewood (Bachelor of Agribusiness, Rural Evaluation) and Harriet Barber (Bachelor of Horticultural Science).
Halewood was very happy to receive her award as she does not have an agricultural background. For her, the award is recognition that all her hard work has paid off and she attributes her success to her faith, friends and family.
“I am taking a graduate role with Quotable Value as a rural evaluator after I graduate. I am looking forward to getting out into the primary industries and the challenges it will bring,” she said.
Animal science student Pippa Smyth was thrilled to take out the top award. Smith is completing her Animal Genetics and Breeding major in the Bachelor of Animal Science. She said she has enjoyed the mix of veterinary and agricultural science with the focus on animals within the degree, which was established in 2019.
She will be completing some yearling preparation at Waikato Stud to get some initial experience over the summer.
Top Earth Science and Environmental Science students Stuart Dearlove and Ilyse Bates completed their degrees via distance and produced very high grades working from home. Bates said she was really pleased to be recognised after the hard work over the past three years and credits her organisational skills with her success.
“Being a distance student, you can be distracted by everyday life. You have to be organised with your time, dedicate time to your study, set yourself strict deadlines and achieve them. I have never ever asked for an extension, and I am very proud of that!”
She is joining engineering company WSP and moving to Taupō in March to start the next phase of her career.
Sarah Wilson took the Student Leadership and Service Award. Wilson was president of the Massey Horticulture Society and is well known within the agriculture cohort. She works hard to promote positive stories of students in the primary industries, encouraging women in agriculture, as well as the incoming first years. Winning the award was special for Wilson who said it recognises the hard work that goes on behind the scenes of academic life.
“It’s not just about academic study, it’s important to go out meet people and make connections. It takes a lot of networking and other people to make a successful university career. Go ask questions and be curious,” she said.
Wilson used the skills she had developed to meet the employers at the awards dinner, including Horticulture NZ, KPMG and Zespri. The awards have proven very successful for her in the past as she was able to secure an internship with Zespri at a previous event.
She has accepted a new role in global insights with Silver Fern Farms in the South Island after graduation.
Head of School of Agriculture and Environment Professor Paul Kenyon was especially delighted about the awards this year as they celebrated 30 years of the event and included the surprise presentation of his 2022 Research Medal by Massey University Provost Professor Giselle Byrnes.
Kenyon said the dinner is the highlight of the academic year for the agriculture and environment staff and students.
“It was a wonderful celebration of all that they have achieved, and it was a great honour to present 26 students with academic, practical and leadership awards. It was also wonderful to have a review of the year from students Oliva Came and Olivia Doughty,” he said.
“This year’s event was particularly special as we were able to celebrate the contribution of Dr Kerry Harrington who has been involved in the awards throughout its 30-year history. In my acceptance of my research medal, I said it is not an award just for me but recognition of the research teams that I have worked with over the years, and that is true of the awards dinner too. It was great to be able to recognise Kerry’s dedication on this special evening.”