Farmer Jane Smith was “blown away” by the group dynamic and drive when she and husband Blair hosted the North Otago-based Growth and Development in Farming Action Group at Newhaven Farms in Oamaru.
The initiative, now in its fifth year, has supported 39 university graduates in agriculture-related, environmental and related disciplines into full-time careers in the sector.
“Especially interesting is the variety of backgrounds of those who have completed the programme,” says Ravensdown training manager and mentor Gordon McCormick.
“They’re not just from rural backgrounds; an increasing number are urban people looking to take part, who see big opportunities in the dynamic agriculture industry.”
This year the programme is supporting seven graduates into work, including Laura Cockroft, of Timaru.
“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,” she says.
“Now that I’ve finished my bachelor of agriculture at Lincoln University I’m excited to join the programme and hopefully will secure an agri manager position with Ravensdown.”
Claire Verhaegh, who worked on her parents’ dairy farm in Riverton, is also in this year’s intake.
“I applied for the programme because I believe every person at Ravensdown has a similar belief towards agriculture as me. If New Zealand is to continue farming successfully, we have to embrace smarter farming as more important now than ever.”
Early each year Ravensdown gives a group of graduates opportunities to gain experience in different fields of the co-operative before taking full-time jobs.
Having grown up on a dairy farm in Taranaki, Taylor Bailey did the programme in 2015 and is now a Ravensdown agri manager in Waikato.
“I love my job and helping farmers make smarter decisions, which is easier today with all the technology we have out our disposal.”
The programme is offered to recent graduates or people who have worked a few years since studying. All graduates must be in the programme for a minimum of six months before taking full-time jobs with Ravensdown.