The plant productions industry's Young Achiever competition saw great success this year. NZ Plant Producers partnered with the International Plant Propagators' Society - NZ Region to organise and coordinate this year's event.
After a brief COVID-related hiatus, the Young Achiever of the Year Award 2021 saw a record number of young people applying. Five finalists were selected: Oliver Dean, Ezra Alexander, Dani McBride, Jacinta Harrop, and Nathan Hewson. Travelling from around the country the finalists were put to the test by a series of both practical and theoretical challenges.
This year, the awards evening was a stand-alone event where the five finalists presented their final challenge to the crowd: a speech on the topic of 'Operating a nursery in a low carbon economy'. Around 70 people came along to Good Neighbour in Hamilton to show their support for our industry's young people. Guests were impressed at the calibre of contestants and commented on the extremely high level of speeches presented this year. The finalists proved that there is a great deal of passion and enthusiasm held for the industry by young plant producers. This competition is just one way that we can foster and support them in their career trajectory.
Dani McBride from Rural Design was named the Plant Producers Young Achiever of the Year 2021. Congratulations also goes to runner up, Nathan Hewson from Advanced Hort and Jacinda Harrop from Striks Nurseries who came third. Dani was cheered on by a cohort of her Rural Design colleagues, who have been supporting her throughout her growth in her career. She will go on to represent the plant production industry in the national Young Horticulturalist competition in November. Keep an eye out on our website for updates.
The year's competition would not be possible without the generous support of Horticentre Charitable Trust, who have been funding Young Achiever for many years now. Marco van den Berg attended the evening on their behalf and had the honour of presenting the awards and certificates.
Growing Spectrum, in the Waikato town of Kihikihi, was the perfect setting for this year's challenges, which covered knowledge and skills in propagation, plant identification, machinery, plant protection, seed sourcing, costings and an interview. A big thank you must go them for being so accommodating. It was made even more meaningful to bring the competition back to the same nursery where Carol Fraser fostered so many Young Achievers and trained young plant producers throughout her career.
The Awards evening was also sponsored by TNZ Growing Products who covered the much-appreciated bar tab and dinner. Waimea Nurseries also shouted a round of bubbles for all guests to celebrate their 50th anniversary.
Richard Beaumont from IPPS was instrumental in this year's event and coordinated our team of judges who donated their time and effort. A big thank you must go to our judges Trina Woolmore (Lyndale Nurseries), Lana Hope (Native Garden Nursery), Mike Scott (Scott Base Nurseries), Greg Palmer (Nga Rakau) and Mary Duncan (Vibrant Earth).
The Young Achiever competition is open to anyone under the age of 30 that works in our industry. It is an opportunity to test your technical, business and public speaking skills against the best young talent in the industry. Contestants receive an invaluable boost of experience, industry insight and mentorship to advance their career. With enquiries already coming in for next year, 2022 looks to be a stiff competition.
Our industry continues to see unprecedented growth & demand. It is the perfect time for our rising stars to grow their careers & inspire others to do the same.