Budding leaders reap scholarship’s rewards

12 May 2015

Rhiannon Bond and Jack Keeys

Rhiannon Bond and Jack Keeys are awarded New Zealand horticultural scholarships worth $4500.

Two good friends are among six people awarded a significant $4500 New Zealand horticultural scholarship for 2015.

Buddy-system for scholarships

Jack Keeys and Rhiannon Bond became friends during an agribusiness paper at the University of Waikato and have since developed a buddy-system for applying for scholarships. Between them they've received more than $45,000 in scholarships.

"If I hear about a scholarship I tell Jack and vice versa," says Rhiannon. "Sometimes there's a bit of friendly rivalry as usually only one person can get it."

Now a second-time winner of the HortNZ Undergraduate Scholarship, Jack says the award aligns perfectly with his passion for horticulture, especially in the kiwifruit industry.

"Horticulture is such an important industry in New Zealand and these scholarships are a great stepping stone into the industry," he says.

HortNZ Annual Conference

Rhiannon was excited to receive the New Zealand Horticentre Trust Undergraduate Scholarship this year. Similar to the HortNZ scholarship, this award gives students the opportunity to attend and participate in the 2015 HortNZ Annual Conference in Rotorua.

"The conference is an incredible opportunity to grow as a professional and meet industry experts," says Rhiannon. "It's the perfect way to say 'hi' to potential employers."

Originally from Paeroa, Jack is studying a conjoint degree in Management and Science, majoring in Agribusiness and Biological Science. Fellow classmate Rhiannon moved to Waikato from Tauranga and is in the third year of a Bachelor of Science (Technology) majoring in Biology.

The duo love university life and have taken advantage of many university initiatives including internships, student-clubs and social sports.

Research projects and work placements

In 2014, Jack undertook a summer research project co-funded by the University of Waikato and the New Zealand Agricultural Green House Gas Research Centre. There he researched an economic model for mitigating greenhouse gasses in the dairy industry.

As part of her work placement with the University's engineering laboratories, Rhiannon helped develop health and safety procedures and gained good practical skills.

"At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter what grades you get. A good work ethic and having practical skills are what employers are often looking for," she says.

After graduation, Rhiannon wants to be a scientific researcher and study plant breeding and fruit development. Jack wants to pursue a career in the kiwifruit industry working with industry giant, Zespri.

Every year Horticulture New Zealand offers scholarships to students and trainees who have a special interest in the fruit or vegetable industry and are undergoing significant industry training or education.