The man behind New Zealand’s newest agricultural training venture is a local farmer and entrepreneur – with a proven track record in the sector.
Grace Burmeister was named winner of the prestigious 2019 William Gerrish Memorial prize at the university’s recent annual agricultural graduation dinner. About 200 people attended – students, agribusiness leaders and sponsors.
She says the environmental side of things is huge and will not be fixed overnight. It will take time.
“Dairy farmers have been hit a lot lately and the morale of farmers in general is very low at the moment,” Burmeister told Rural News.
“So there will be a change, but I think the Government and everyone else needs to understand that this has to come progressively. Otherwise you are going to get mental health issues coming through.”
Burmeister, who’s just completed a bachelor of commerce degree, says she’s always been passionate about the dairy industry. She has worked on her parents 1000 cow farm near the Tui Brewery in the Tararua district, and says she knows what it’s like to be ‘down and dirty’.
She went to Fielding High School to get agricultural experience.
“I guess from there my passion for the industry grew even more when I did an ag commerce degree at Massey,” Burmeister said.
“As a result of this, I am going into banking next year as part of a graduate agribusiness programme with BNZ. I have always been passionate about banking. I’ve always been interested in the economics and financial side of farming, so I made it my goal to get into banking and I have got there.”
Burmeister likes to see the success stories of farmers and see them reach their potential. Working as a banker will allow her to do that.
Winning the William Gerrish Award came as a surprise, an honour and a privilege, says Burmeister, who cruised through high school without topping her class.
“I live and breathe the ag sector,” she told Rural News. “I love it and think there is always going to be potential in the sector and always a job there. So I guess if you are keen on something just go ahead and do it,” she said.
Coaster takes awared
Megan Robertson, who has just completed her bachelor of agri-commerce degree, is this year’s Massey Agricultural Student award winner.
The award acknowledges her all round contribution to the university. She also won the Young Farmers’ Sally Hobson award for her service to the club.
Growing up on the family dairy farm on the West Coast, Robertson always knew she would pursue a career in agriculture.
“I studied agriculture, via correspondence, when I was attending Nelson Girls College and this sparked more interest,” she said.
“From there, I decided to go to Massey University to pursue my passion for agri commerce majoring in international agribusiness.”
Robertson now has a job with Fonterra Farm Source on its agribusiness graduate programme, based in Hamilton. Further on she’d like to be in a governance position in NZ agribusiness and has a longer term goal of going back on farm and running her own business.
Robertson has a passion for getting young people into the industry and has been talking in schools and helping at agri-kids competitions.