Check out this story from SunLive that sheds light on what Horticulture New Zealand's scholarships mean to them.
Published 06:50 12/05/2015
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Two good friends are among six people who have been awarded a $4,500 New Zealand horticultural scholarship for 2015.
University of Waikato students Rhiannon Bond and Jack Keeys have received more than $45,000 in scholarships combined after the friends developed a buddy-system for applying for grants.
"If I hear about a scholarship, I tell Jack and vice versa," says Rhiannon, who originally hails from Tauranga. "Sometimes there's a bit of friendly rivalry as usually only one person can get it."
This is the second time Jack, who calls Paeroa home, has won the HortNZ Undergraduate Scholarship and says it aligns perfectly with his passion for horticulture - especially in the kiwifruit industry.
"Horticulture is such an important industry in New Zealand," adds Rhiannon, "and these scholarships are a great stepping stone into the industry."
Rhiannon was excited to receive the New Zealand Horticentre Trust Undergraduate Scholarship this year. Similar to the HortNZ scholarship, the award gives students the opportunity to attend and participate in the 2015 HortNZ Annual Conference in Rotorua.
"The conference is an incredible opportunity to grow as a professional and meet industry experts," she says. "It's the perfect way to say ‘hi' to potential employers."
Originally from Paeroa, Jack is studying a conjoint degree in Management and Science, majoring in Agribusiness and Biological Science. Fellow classmate Rhiannon is in her third year of a Bachelor of Science (Technology), majoring in Biology. The duo love university life and have taken advantage of many university initiatives including internships, student-clubs and social sports.
In 2014, Jack undertook a summer research project co-funded by the University of Waikato and the New Zealand Agricultural Green House Gas Research Centre. There he researched an economic model for mitigating greenhouse gasses in the dairy industry.
As part of her work placement with the university's engineering laboratories, Rhiannon helped develop health and safety procedures and gained good practical skills.
"At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter what grades you get," she says. "A good work ethic and having practical skills are what employers are often looking for."
After graduation, Rhiannon wants to be a scientific researcher and study plant breeding and fruit development. While Jack wants to pursue a career in the kiwifruit industry working with industry giant, Zespri.
Every year Horticulture New Zealand offers scholarships to students and trainees who have a special interest in the fruit or vegetable industry and are undergoing significant industry training or education.