Opening students' eyes to agri

2 March 2018

During the programme, future agri-leaders participate in the Hamilton City Young Farmers Agri Relay Challenge.

“Young students have no idea how many incredible opportunities you can find in the agricultural sector,” says University of Waikato student Celine Walters. Determined to open students’ eyes to the many available options, the agribusiness and marketing student organised the 2018 Rabobank Waikato Agri-Leadership programme.

Funded by Rabobank, the four-day programme exposed high school students to those opportunities, aiming to create future leaders in the agri industry. Twenty-six high school students were involved, primarily from city and urban backgrounds in the Waikato region.

“The variety of agribusiness opportunities in New Zealand is massive, particularly in the Waikato,” Celine says. “It was great to see so many young people, especially from urban areas, interested in this sector.”

The students visited various top organisations in the agri sector, including Plant and Food, Gallagher and Fonterra. They were inspired by a range of guest speakers, including Agribusiness leader Traci Houpapa, Environmental Protection Agency chief scientist Jacqueline Rowarth and KPMG Global Head of Agribusiness Ian Proudfoot.

“The speakers really opened everyone's eyes to the vast variety of perspectives New Zealanders have on where we should be heading in the future, to stay competitive in a changing business environment,” Celine says. “For example, meat is now able to be produced in a lab, so the question of whether we should follow this path and produce alternative proteins, or stick with the production of pasture based protein needs to be determined.”

Currently in her third year of a Bachelor of Management Studies (Honours), Celine is proud to be part of a movement to develop future leaders in the growing agri industry.

“Now we need to show students from engineering, management, strategy and science the brilliant opportunities available in agriculture, and bring them into the sector,” she says.