9 November 2018
Runner up Young Horticulturalist of the year Devin Westley is an extraordinary young man with a huge passion for his work as a nurseryman and innovator in the industry. His employer Southern Woods Nursery and NZ Plant Producers’ Industry are delighted with his win/placing as New Zealand Young Horticulturalist and thought this was a likely outcome for him in the competition.
Devin achieved an overall second place finish in the competition. Devin also took home awards for best practice, practical activities and best speech on the night at the award’s dinner in Auckland last night.
Southern Woods retail manager Chris Smith says, “We’re immensely proud of Devin for gaining second place in this very close and intense competition. Devin has already made a huge contribution to our industry, everything he undertakes at Southern Woods he does with professionalism and the goal of achieving the best possible results for all parties.”
“We were quietly confident that with the right preparation and his can-do attitude, Devin would succeed. His eagerness to learn and desire to share his knowledge has made him an invaluable member of the Southern Woods team and we will celebrate his achievement with him soon,” Mr Smith said.
NZPPI CE Matt Dolan says it was clear when Mr Westley first won the Young Achiever Award that he was a belt and braces man and would risk no aspect of this competition getting his second best.
“Devin is a delightful young man with a powerhouse of ideas and passion for the nursery industry and environmental stewardship. He is truly and inspiration to others. This is what we need to take NZ nurseries to the next level of science and innovation,” Matt Dolan said.
NZPPI acknowledges Southern Woods and Growing Spectrum for their mentorship of Devin. We also thank the Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture Education Trust for running these awards and AGMARDT for their support throughout the awards.
28 June 2018
Congratulations to Devin Westley who won the Young Achiever title for 2018 at the NZPPI conference in Rotorua.
Three finalists, Devin, Arron Harvie from Smart Garden and Corey Ronaldson from Kericell Nursery, competed in a number of activities during conference. Devin was announced as the winner Wednesday night at the Gala Dinner at Rydges Hotel Rotorua.
"It was a great experience! I got to meet other young passionate horticulturalists and test my skills against them. The challenges have given me some excellent feedback, and have pointed out some gaps in my knowledge to improve upon”
Devin is a 25 year old Sales Consultant at Southern Woods in Christchurch, with diplomas in Horticulture and Horticultural management from Lincoln University. Post study, he worked for the Christchurch Botanic Gardens and Terra Viva, before taking a more senior role with the retail & consulting team at Southern Woods.
With a passion for fruit & nut trees, Devin is looking to further his knowledge and practical experience in the industry.
“This was a great career development and learning opportunity for me. I will have access to the mentorship of industry leaders to coach me for the next challenge, and I'm excited for what's ahead”
Devin’s manager, Chris Smith from Southern Woods says competitions such as this give bright young talent the opportunity to challenge themselves and plan for their future.
“We're hugely proud of where Devin has come from since he started at Southern Woods fresh out of Lincoln University. He had a passion for plants and trees that you don’t see every day, you could see the potential in him from day one. He’s an extremely valuable member of the team and contributes well to a culture of learning and development here at Southern Woods.”
Devin is Southern Woods’ second winner of this competition in recent years, with Thomas Ferguson winning the award in 2015.
Special thanks must go to the sponsors, HortFertplus and Horticentre Trust, and the judges Trina Tully, Liza Whalley, Helen van der Werff and Lisa and Andrew Bowman for their time and hard work in preparing for this award.
Devin will represent the nursery and garden industry in the Young Horticulturist of the Year competition, in November, managed by the RNZIH Education Trust, where the Grand Final offers a prize pool of more than $35,000. And following this, Devin can enjoy his Young Achiever prize of a 5 day trip to Melbourne, taking in a visit to the 2019 Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show.
The finalists were:
Arron works at Smart Garden in Auckland. He has always loved gardening and studied horticulture at MIT after leaving school. After one year he had achieved Level 4 in Horticulture and the following year completed a Diploma in Horticulture. He has entered the competition to enhance his horticultural knowledge and experience, and to measure what he might need to work on. And to come out of it with new friendships and industry connections. Out of work, Arron enjoys creating espalier fruit trees, tennis, fishing, painting, gaming and more gardening!
Corey is employed at Kericell Nursery, Kerikeri, where he has been for 4 years. Since entering Young Achiever 2017 he has been promoted to production manager, organising and supervising a team of staff and ensuring that Kericell is producing at an optimal rate. He is currently studying to achieve Level 1 to 4 advanced certificates in horticulture, which he’d like to complete this year. Corey recognises the potential for him to diversify his knowledge and skills both within the Kericell environment and outside it. His main ambition is to own his own horticultural business.
Devin’s interest in plants began when he studied Biochem / Ecology at University of Canterbury He realised he would much prefer to work hands on so switched his study to horticulture at Lincoln. Devin completed a Diploma in Horticulture and a Diploma in Horticultural Management. After a summer of work experience he ended up as retail and site consultant at Southernwoods Nursery. Outside of work he enjoys power lifting and won a gold medal at the Canterbury amateurs. He sees entry to the competition as a great opportunity to network with industry leaders and get career exposure.
Tuesday 26th June – practical activities and interviews with the judging panel.
Wednesday 27th June – Gala Dinner - speeches to conference delegates, results and winner announced
Trina Tully, Lyndale Custom Mix; Helen van der Werff, Primary ITO; Liza Whalley, Primary ITO; Andrew Bowman, Twining Valley Nurseries.
Before conference a one day training workshop will be held. The young achievers will be assessed by a panel of industry professionals, and three finalists selected to attend the NZPPI Conference where they participate in a series of activities to test their skills. The winner is announced at the Gala Dinner.
The winner receives a trophy to hold for one year, a framed certificate and a 5 day trip for two to Melbourne, taking in the Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show. Runners up receive a $500 Prezzy card, and a framed certificate. All young achievers receive a full appraisal of their entry.
The Young Achiever winner also goes on to represent the nursery and garden industry in The Young Horticulturist of the Year where young people from all sectors of horticulture come together to compete for the title and a raft of valuable prizes.
Few young employees have the financial resources required to compete in this award, so employers are encouraged to help entrants wherever possible with time and financial support to attend the competition. It is an investment for any employer in the future of their business with the employee gaining skills and confidence to bring back to their place of work.
Entry closes Thursday 24 May
17 November 2017
After winning the New Zealand Plant Producers annual “Young Achievers Award” in July this year, Linnaeus Deputy Lab Manager Shanna Hickling went on to represent the nursery and garden industry winning the title of 2017 “Young Horticulturist of the Year” at the competition finale last night in Auckland.
The annual competition brings together young people from all sectors of horticulture (orchard, viticulture, plant production and amenity) to compete for the title and a prize pool of over $40,000. The aim is to identify and develop the next generation of leaders in the Horticulture industry, fostering and encouraging leadership capability.
Shanna has spent the past 5 months in the lead up to the Young Horticulture competition completing a range of tasks and projects including a community engagement submission, a career development plan and development of an innovative product or idea. With the garden and nursery sector estimated to produce 200 million container plants, in her innovation project, Shanna identified an opportunity for the ‘SureMix’ sampler – a tool designed and built (to prototype) for quick, easy and representative media sampling from potted plants.
The last two days of the competition, leading up to the awards night saw the competitors run through practical components and activities on day one and business components on day two including interviews with judges.
As well as a lucrative pool of prizes including a $7,500 travel and accommodation package, Shanna says “connections I’ve made from the competition are going to last a lifetime”.
Young Horticulturist of the Year, in its 13th year, is a great recognition of the best of the best when it comes to high calibre future leaders in horticulture. Shanna noted that she joined the industry quite by chance, “On graduating I asked around to see if anyone knew of jobs where I could utilise my microbiology degree. In the end my dentist was the one to connect me to Riversun and horticulture as a career path, and it’s proven to be a wonderful workplace. We are challenged and offered great opportunities to further develop our skills and competencies and Geoff is excellent at asking us what we need to ensure a satisfying and interesting work experience”.
Raised on a sheep farm just outside of Gisborne, Shanna, has a Bachelor of Science degree with a double major in microbiology and genetics from Massey University, graduating in 2014. She has worked for Linnaeus, the diagnostics division of Riversun for the past four years starting out as a graduate, progressing to project manage the research department and learning the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of the environmental testing department. Her current role as deputy laboratory manager provides support to the team to deliver timely results to the horticulture industry, as the lab expands its testing capabilities.Riversun Managing Director, Geoff Thorpe recalls the first interview with Shanna over three years ago and says, “when I first met Shanna I was immediately impressed with her positive can-do attitude as well as her adaptability and flexibility. She has the passion for excellence Riversun strives for and I have no doubt she will play an important leadership role in the future of horticulture”.
10 July 2017
Congratulations to Shanna Hickling of Riversun Nursery in Gisborne who won the Young Achiever title for 2017 at the NZPPI inaugural conference in Hamilton, July 5.
Three finalists, Shanna, Grace Ng from Horticentre Group and Corey Ronaldson from Kericell Nursery, competed in a number of activities during conference. Shanna was announced as the winner Wednesday night at the Gala Dinner at Novotel Tainui Hamilton.
"The Young Achiever Competition has been a great experience. It challenges its competitors in a wide range of skills. Coupled with the NZPPI conference it provided a knowledgeable, supportive (and forgiving) audience for our speeches. Thank you to everyone involved in organising the competition – I had a blast! "
Shanna enjoyed immediate local recognition when she was contacted by the Gisborne Herald. You can read the article here.
Special thanks must go to the sponsors, Hortfert Plus and Horticentre Trust, and the judges Carol Fraser, Grant Eyre, Trina Tully, Michelle Turner, Helen van der Werff and Andrew Bowman for their time and hard work in preparing for this award.
Thanks also to Bahco for supporting the finalists with a pack to each of secateurs, holster, pruning saw and sharpening stone.
Shanna will represent the nursery and garden industry in the Young Horticulturist of the Year competition, in November, managed by the RNZIH Education Trust, where the Grand Final offers a prize pool of more than $35,000. And following this, Shanna can enjoy her Young Achiever prize of a 5 day trip to Melbourne, taking in a visit to the 2018 Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show.
13 June 2017
These three finalist will attend conference and compete in the competition.
Shanna is 25 and has a Bachelor of Science with a double major in Microbiology and Genetics at Massey University, graduating in 2014. She was then hired by Riversun Nursery, Gisborne, as a Research and Development assistant. Shanna currently works as a Senior Technical Analyst and Researcher. This is a temporary role as she transitions from the research department, where she was Project Manager, to 2IC of Linnaeus Laboratory.
In addition to her work at Riversun, Shanna takes a lead role in promoting the opportunities in horticulture to students, taking time to talk to schools and at industry events. She has a commitment and passion for the industry which she would like to share with young people.
Grace is 25 and working for the Horticentre Group as a customer service representative, but is much more than that, with Grace assisting technical staff, and overseeing and organising the retail store, promotions& events, quality testing, field trials and communicating with nurseries and landscapers.
She holds a Bachelor of Science from Lincoln University and the National Certificate in Horticulture (Level 4). She is very committed to the industry and would like to use her skills to advance into a technical role.
Corey is 20 and employed at Kericell Nursery, Kerikeri, where he has been for 3 years. He is currently the leader of the Da-Ross transplanter team, meaning he is responsible for selecting the best seedlings and maintaining quality control through the week’s production of punnets, plus keeping the transplanter running. He also assumes other nursery work as required. He is currently studying to achieve Level 1 to 4 advanced certificates in horticulture, which he’d like to complete next year.
Corey recognises the potential for him to diversify his knowledge and skills both within the Kericell environment and outside it. His main ambition is to own his own horticultural business.
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An award first - Devin takes a selfie on stage!
Devin with HortFertplus sponsor Mark Stevenson
Arron Harvie, Smart Garden
Corey Ronaldson, Kericell Nursery
Devin Westley, Southernwoods Nursery