Lincoln University’s recent food and fibre event served up a bevy of opportunities while showcasing the positive attributes of the primary sector.
Agricultural Sciences Professor Derrick Moot said the event was a long-overdue initiative that debuted last year as a way of recognising academic excellence, as well as connecting students with prospective employers.
More than 20 sector organisations, including Fonterra, AgResearch, Ravensdown, Beef + Lamb New Zealand and PGG Wrightson, sponsored tables, with industry representatives seated alongside students pursuing relevant degrees.
Moot said the family of sponsors included many major employers and some were represented on the night by recent graduates who discussed their careers, the study programmes that prepared them for their work and the opportunities available in their organisations.
Silver Fern Farms provided some of the country’s finest beef and lamb and Rossendale Wines sponsored the wine on offer.
The evening featured an awards ceremony honouring the top students in selected food and fibre programmes.
“The companies are seeking high quality, work-ready graduates to support the primary sector, and the event is one way of ensuring students understand the importance of their studies and how they are being prepared for success in the future,” Moot said.
Bachelor of Commerce (Agriculture) student George Hamilton, who won the 2023 Top Student of the Year Award from the Faculty of Agribusiness and Commerce, said the opportunity to meet multiple industry professionals helped to expand his knowledge in different industries as well as grow his career network.
“A highlight of the night was being able to sit down and enjoy a superb meal whilst creating some very valuable connections with two well-known members of the ANZ Bank,” Hamilton said.
“To be lucky enough to win a top student award was another highlight, and a real honour for me.
“It showed me it’s worth putting in that extra bit of hard work as it pays off in the end. I’d also like to say well done to all the other prize winners as it was very well deserved.”
Bachelor of Science student Ella Harris, who won the 2023 Agricultural Science Student of the Year award, said the event was a “fantastic experience”.
“It allowed me time to meet with industry professionals and staff members to explore not only potential workplace options but also expanding into postgraduate study,” she said.
“Winning the top student award was definitely a nice surprise.
“It was awesome to be acknowledged by my faculty and Lincoln University for the hard work myself and all the other winning students put in every day to achieve these results.”
Bachelor of Agricultural Science student Archie Woodhouse, who won a Top Student Award, said the initiative offered great opportunities.
“Events like this exemplify the advantage that students leaving Lincoln have – the ability to connect with people, whether that be their peers, alumni or industry leaders,” Woodhouse said.
As well as showcasing academic prowess and providing networking opportunities, the event featured a panel discussion with successful Lincoln alumni who shared their views on the intricacies of the food and fibre sectors.
This year’s guests were Wayne and Tyler Langford, creators of the Meat the Need support service and Wilbur Morrison, co-founder of the Buzz Club range of mead drinks, who all emphasised the importance of making the most of connections and opportunities.
Wayne Langford, a sixth-generation dairy farmer from Golden Bay, holds a Diploma in Farm Management from Lincoln University and was recently elected national president of Federated Farmers.
Morrison completed a Bachelor of Agricultural Science with First Class Honours in Soil Science at Lincoln in 2020 and established the Buzz Club that year with a school friend to create award-winning alcohol brewed from native New Zealand honey.