Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Ravensdown celebrates five years of developing new agricultural talent


A new crop of talented university graduates are building careers in New Zealand’s rapidly changing agricultural industry thanks to Ravensdown’s development programme.

The successful initiative – now in its fifth year – has supported 39 university graduates with degrees in agricultural-related, environmental and related disciplines into fulltime careers in the sector.

“What is especially interesting is the variety of backgrounds those who have completed the programme come from,” says Ravensdown Training Manager and Mentor Gordon McCormick.

“It’s not just those from rural backgrounds – there’s an increasing number of urban people looking to take part, who see big opportunities in what’s a very dynamic agricultural industry.”

This year the programme is supporting seven graduates into work. One is Timaru’s Laura Cockroft.

“I’m not from a farming background but from a young age I had an interest in agriculture and spent my holidays working on farms in South Canterbury,” Laura says.

“Now that I’ve finished my Bachelor of Agriculture from Lincoln University, I’m super-excited to join the programme and hopefully secure an agri manager position with Ravensdown.

Claire Verhaegh, who began her agricultural career journey on her parents’ dairy farm in Riverton, is also excited to be in this year’s intake.

I applied for the programme because I truly believe that every person at Ravensdown had a similar belief towards agriculture as me. If New Zealand is to continue farming successfully, we have to embrace smarter farming – something that’s more important now than ever.

At the start of each year Ravensdown takes on a group of graduates and provides them with a wide range of opportunities to gain experience in different fields of the co-operative before heading into fulltime positions.

Having grown up on a well-known dairy farm in Taranaki, Taylor Bailey completed the development programme in 2015 and is now a Ravensdown agri manager in the Waikato.

“The programme was great because it provided me with a good understanding of what Ravensdown is all about. I love my job and helping farmers make smarter decisions, which is easier today with all the great technology we have out our disposal. There’s a tech revolution happening in farming and it’s exciting to be part of it.”

The development programme is offered to those who have recently graduated university or have been working for a few years after studying. All graduates must be involved with the programme for a minimum of six months before heading into fulltime positions with Ravensdown.