We'd like to congratulate Tom Ferguson for his stellar effort in this year's competition, placing second overall. Tom wins a $5,500 Massey University study scholarship, $750 worth of ICL Specialty Fertiliser products and $100 NZ Horticultural magazine subscription for one year. Tom also won the Bayer Best Practice Award, winning a $2500 scholarship, and placed third in the The AGMARDT Market Innovation Project , taking home $1500 cash.
In his own words:
Competing in Young Horticulturalist was an amazing experience. I was able to meet many of my role models such as Jack Hobbs, Keith Hammett and Peter Fraser. It was promising to see the high calibre of the other contestants, this gives me great hope for the future of the New Zealand horticulture industry. It was fantastic to meet people with a similar passion for growing plants. I have no doubt they will be the future leaders and innovators in our industry.
The competition was made up of many key components designed to test us on a comprehensive range of horticulture industry skills, ranging from HR and Health and Safety to the more traditional skills of plant identification and pruning. The AGMARDT innovation project tested our business planning skills. My project investigated the use of drones for frost protection, an opportunity of great value to the industry. My efforts earned me third place in the AGMARDT innovation project.
At the end of the night I came second overall in the Young Horticulturalist of the Year competition, only one point behind my friend Caleb Dennis from Craggy Range. It was a hard fought competition and I have no regrets from the whole experience. I don’t intend to compete again, as I believe the event is a fantastic opportunity and should be shared with fellow young leaders in the nursery sector. I would urge anyone considering entering the Young Achiever competition to go for it, it’s a great learning experience and a rewarding challenge.
I’d like to thank the organisers, the Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture, and the many sponsors, especially AGMARDT, T&G and Fruitfed, as well as Bayer, who awarded me their best practise award. I’d also like to thank NGINZ, Horticentre and Primary ITO for supporting the Young Achiever award, which gives the nursery industry a contestant for Young Horticulturalist. The event was very well run, Elenka Nikoloff from RNZIH in particular has been a great help over the past few months. I’d also like to thank my employer, Southern Woods for giving me their support in terms of help, training and time.
Overall, the long nights, stress and excitement were all worthwhile, I’m proud to have represented the nursery sector in this year’s competition.
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