Wednesday, 08 November 2023 08:55

Massey's best options open

Written by  Peter Burke
Massey University’s top student for 2023 Alyssa Hayes is still thinking about what she’ll do when she graduates. Massey University’s top student for 2023 Alyssa Hayes is still thinking about what she’ll do when she graduates.

Massey University's top student for 2023 is still thinking about what she'll do when she graduates.

Alyssa Hayes, from Eketahuna, won the top prize - the coveted William Gerrish Memorial Award - at the annual awards ceremony, held in Palmerston North recently.

The award is special in that it not only recognises an outstanding farm management student and the winner also needs to demonstrate a high level of personal integrity, intellectual curiosity, vision and social conscience.

This is the 30th year the event has been run and the venue was packed with students, academic staff and sponsors.

Hayes is studying for a Bachelor of Agribusiness and Farm Management and will complete her degree this time next year. Normally, this degree would take three years, but Hayes has been doing it remotely because she has been helping look after her grandmother who has dementia. She has also been helping out on her mother’s sheep and beef farm.

“I am very proud and honoured to receive this award, but at this stage I am not certain about what I’ll do when I graduate,” she told Rural News. “I’d like to go shepherding for a couple of years to get hands-on experience and then maybe get into consultancy.”

Guest speaker at the graduate ceremony was Dr John Roche from MPI who told the graduates and students about what he’s learned in the 30 years since he graduated. He says young people need to understand that life isn’t always rosy and that there will be challenges. Roche says, from his experience, ag, hort and animal science degrees will set them up and make them resilient in the face of adversity.

“One of my key messages is always say ‘yes’ when the first challenges comes. Later, you can figure out how to do it,” he says.

Roche says that looking back, he thought he knew more than he did and his advice for young people is to listen a bit more. “A little humility goes a long way.”

Kenyon Honoured

As part of the graduation celebration for Massey Ag students, their boss and head of the School of Agriculture and the Environment – Professor Paul Kenyon – was recognised.

He was presented with the Massey University Research Medal. The medal recognises that Kenyon’s scientific reputation reaches far beyond NZ and his research findings have been made to numerous farmer and industry organisations worldwide.

paul kenyon 3 FBTW

Professor Paul Kenyon was presented with the Massey University Research Medal.

Kenyon is an animal scientist who grew up on a sheep and beef farm. His speciality area of research is sheep, which he has done for more than 20 years.

His notable achievements include his work on hogget mating and the management of twin and triplet ewes. He’s also been heavily involved in the use of alternative herbages to improve sheep performance.

Kenyon has a number of research linkages and programme nationally and internationally – including Uruguay, China and Ireland.

Kenyon told Rural News it was great to be recognised for the work his group has done in the sheep and beef sectors.

“While the award is given to me, it’s a reflection of work of the whole team,” he says.

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