Te Puke Student’s passion for horticulture is rewarded

Despite experiencing the PsA epidemic growing up, Sarah Wilson, an animal and plant health scholarship winner, says deciding to study horticulture was the best decision of her life.

Born and raised in a kiwifruit orchard in Te Puke, the 21-year-old attributes her enthusiasm to “an awesome agricultural teacher, people working in the business and growing up in the heart of horticulture”, where she saw people in his role. of the “doing cool things” world.

The outbreak of bacterial kiwi vine disease in 2011 gave him an idea of ​​the tools needed to protect crops from harmful pests and diseases. The ‘sickening hum of chainsaws’ echoed around the district as arborists ‘cut down their vines and therefore their livelihoods’, says Wilson – who is now in his third year of an agribusiness degree at the Massey University.

Thanks to the selection, research and development of appropriate agrochemicals, “the PSA is now under control and our orchard has continued to produce top quality fruit”.

“It’s important for consumers to understand the value of agrochemicals and the industry’s efforts to keep consumers safe,” Wilson says.

“Every product has been thoroughly researched and industry bodies are always looking to use agrochemicals more efficiently.” Their value extends far beyond the orchard gate. “If we cannot get our products to market due to pest and disease outbreaks, we risk economic collapse.”

The student saw a career in business “as a safe option” before turning to agribusiness and horticulture. Reflecting on her choice, she says, “it’s the best decision of my life”, due to the many opportunities and “awesome career paths”.

“My degree gives me a broad insight into primary industries that very few other degrees can give.” Once completed, Wilson wants to add value and make a positive difference to horticulture.

The $2,500 gain will be used to cover next year’s education costs.

When not studying, Wilson runs the Massey Horticultural Society and works as a social media guru for Grassroots Media. She also completed a summer internship at Zespri, as part of the Quality Assurance team, analyzing product issue notifications from global markets. “In this role, I gained an excellent understanding of how a world-leading company uses innovation, research and development from the agrochemical sector to produce a quality product in a sustainable way,” says Wilson.

As President of the Horticultural Society, she organizes events that connect industry leaders with students who may one day work with them. “I believe the events play an important role in encouraging Massey students to work in industry where there is both a labor and skills gap,” she says.

The student enjoys helping her local community by volunteering at the Te Puke Food Bank – something her grandmother helped set up as a community hub. “It was a big part of my world” and opened his eyes to the extent of the needs and the challenges people face. “Coming from a good home, I realize how blessed I am,” she says.

She enjoys sports like netball, basketball, and volleyball, although she had to “take it easy on sports” during her studies.

Animal and Plant Health NZ chief executive Mark Ross says the association is happy to contribute to the future of someone with such enthusiasm for primary industries.

“We were impressed with Sarah’s drive and commitment to improving primary industries,” says Ross. “It is clear that she will be an asset to the industry, and we wish her well in her career.”

Animal and Plant Health NZ offers two scholarships a year to support education and raise awareness for careers in related industries.

The fellowships are an example of industry initiatives led by Animal and Plant Health NZ to provide safe and sustainable animal health and crop protection technology and educate the community on industry contribution.

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