2013-11-22

Top Honours for Young Farmers

New Zealand Young Farmers members are making waves in the agricultural scene at home and abroad.
Former NZYF Chairman, Paul Olsen was recently awarded the prestigious agricultural Nuffield Scholarship for his research topic on potato (cropping) production.

The Nuffield Scholarship is awarded each year to just a few individuals who have been identified as future leaders who want to make a positive difference to their sector of the primary industry. Only 140 scholarships have been awarded over the past 60 years.

“It’s fair to say I was over the moon and slightly humbled given the calibre of the past Nuffield scholars but very much thrilled to be given the opportunity,” said Mr Olsen, a Manawatu potato grower.

The selection process involved a written application and two rounds of interviews. The award includes a cash payment of $40,000 and an opportunity for international travel attending a Contemporary Scholars Conference with all other Nuffield Scholars globally for that year and participating in a six-week Global Focus Programme with a group of ten people covering six to eight countries.

Mr Olsen will start his travels in March at the Contemporary Scholars Conference in Canberra, Australia.  Later in the year he will travel to the Philippines, China, Canada, United States, Netherlands, France and Ireland where he will look at everything to do with agriculture including their markets’ opportunities and constraints.

The award is an opportunity for not only personal and professional development, but also a great opportunity to contribute to the wider New Zealand primary sector. “I see some large benefits to maybe helping some younger growers and farmers through a possible mentoring role. I am very keen to help where possible as the industry has given me a lot of support and encouragement,” commented Mr Olsen. “It’s also about stepping outside of my comfort zone, experiencing different cultures and adversity first hand around the globe,” he continued.

Cam Lewis, current NZYF Vice-Chairman, has also been quietly achieving after being named the Rural Young Achiever for New Zealand.

Mr Lewis, a dairy farmer from Levin, will represent New Zealand while competing for the Australasian Rural Youth Ambassador title at the Royal A&P Show in Feilding, 6-8 December. The previous winner of the 2012 Australasian title was another Young Farmer, 2013 ANZ Young Farmer Contest Champion Tim Van de Molen.

The competition will include a panel interview and each contestant must present a speech on a topic given to them that day. Judges will be looking for a solid understanding of the industry, community involvement and general knowledge. Mr Lewis is up against the top six Australian state finalists.

Mr Lewis commented that he is very excited about the opportunity, “It’s the type of competition that suites my strengths and is more geared for people behind the scenes in agriculture,” said Mr Lewis.

Both of these achievements by Mr Olsen and Mr Lewis are outstanding examples of the up and coming talent in the primary industry and an opportunity to showcase New Zealand agriculture to the world.