Young Achiever Award 2019 - meet the finalists

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The winner will be announced at the TNZ NZPPI Gala Dinner Wednesday 15th May at Sudima Hotel Christchurch Airport. Finalists are listed in alphabetical order.

Ezra Alexander 

Ezra, 21, was born in Christchurch but has lived in Auckland from a young age. He was home schooled and has been able to get four years work experience under his belt. He is a trainee nursery grower at Nga Rakau Nurseries. Working there has inspired his love of the outdoors and horticulture.

He is currently studying with Primary ITO but intends to continue study his whole life. He entered this competition to learn new things, test what he knows and push himself to be a professional grower.

He loves sports like soccer and is currently learning Korean. He has twelve siblings who he loves spending time with and keeps him busy.

Rico Mannall 

Rico, 28, is the current Business Development and Marketing Manager at Southern Woods Nursery in Christchurch. From early beginnings working in the family nursery as a teenager, he’s had over a decades’ experience producing and selling plants.

His current role sees him responsible for growth and development opportunities at Southern Woods, plus the many marketing tasks within the rapidly growing retail/wholesale/online business.

“Having seen two of my colleagues thrive in this competition recently, I was inspired to further develop my skills in this industry, learn from the best and meet plenty of like-minded people”

As an avid photographer & traveller, Rico is often found out in the wilderness or as far away as Iceland. He has a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Arts from The University of Canterbury.

Jacob Rados 

Jacob, 23, is a nurseryman at the DOC native nursery in Motukarara, Canterbury. His work involves collecting seeds & growing plant for restoration projects.

His passion is his work, growing NZ’s unique flora for future generations to enjoy. He enjoys travelling, experiencing different cultures and giving back along the way by volunteering. He loves spending time in the untouched wilderness, and with family and friends.

Jacob wants to challenge himself by entering this competition and hopes to get a look into the industry and see how it can move forward sustainably.

The competition

Tuesday – practical activities and interviews with the judging panel at Sudima Hotel
Wednesday night – Gala Dinner - speeches to conference delegates, results and winner announced

The judges

Many thanks to these wonderful people who have volunteered to be on the judging panel:

Helen van der Werff, Primary ITO; Geoff Bryant, Primary ITO; Adriana Barada, Ambrosia Nurseries; Geoff McMillan, Kiwiflora Nurseries.

 

About the annual NZPPI Young Achiever Award

The competition seeks to reward and recognise the best young nursery people in the country.

This is a fantastic opportunity for young people in the nusery industry. Encourage your young employees to follow this year's competition and enter next year, and take the next step in their career.

Few young people 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.

For more information on the criteria for entry, check the 2019 Entry form

Many thanks to Horticentre Charitable Trust and HortFertplus for their sponsorship of the Young Achiever Award programme. Please support these sponsors wherever you can.

The New Zealand Horticentre Trust is a Charitable Trust that was established in 2008 with the objective of providing “a helping hand for the horticulture and viticulture sectors”. We ensure that all funds are used to benefit horticulture and viticulture across New Zealand.
The Horticentre Charitable Trust supports these sector groups and growers alike in the promotion of education, training, research & development, grower welfare and disaster relief. We are a proud supporter of the industries Regional and National Grower competitions.

 

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.

The competition

Entrants to the competition are called for early in the year. The applications received are assessed bya panel of industry professionals and three finalists are selected to attend the NZPPI annual conference.

At conference, the finalists participate in a round of activities.

Day 1– practical activities and interviews with the judging panel.
Day 2– Gala Dinner - speeches to conference delegates, results and winner announced

The judges

The judges in 2018 were: Trina Tully, Lyndale Custom Mix; Helen van der Werff, Primary ITO; Liza Whalley, Primary ITO; Andrew Bowman, Twining Valley Nurseries.

Many thanks to Horticentre Charitable Trust and HortFertplus for their sponsorship of the Young Achiever Award programme. Please support these sponsors wherever you can.

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 $400 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.


Devin Westley, 2018 Young Achiever winner

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.


17 November 2017

PASSION FOR HORTICULTURE A CLEAR WINNER!

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”.

Shanna Hickling, 2017 Young Achiever winner

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-Feb-2019

Daniel Howard - 2016 Young Achiever

1-Aug-2016
Congratulations to Daniel Howard of Moores Valley Nurseries who won the Young Achiever title for 2016 and will go on and represent the nursery and garden industry at the Young Horticulturist of the Year competition in November.

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Meet the 2016 Young Achiever finalists

24-May-2016
Three entrants were assessed by the judges [Carol Fraser, Helen van der Werff, Andrew Bowman, Trina Tully and Mark Stevenson] and will be attending Conference in Wellington to compete in a round of activities to determine the winner.

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Tom Ferguson comes up trumps

27-Nov-2015
Tom Ferguson from Southern Woods Nursery, and the nursery and garden industry representative, came up trumps at the Young Horticulturist of the Year competition earlier this month, placing second overall

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Tom Ferguson - 2015 Young Achiever & runner up in the 2015 Young Horticulturist of the Year

13-Nov-2015
Tom was placed as runner up in the 2015 Young Horticulturist of the Year awards - congratulations Tom, just reward for your efforts in the months just past. And thanks too to all those who have supported Tom as he's prerpared for Young Horticulturist of the Year, especially employers Southern Woods. Tom was placed as runner up in teh 2015 Young Horticulturist of the Year awards - congratulations Tom, just reward for your efforts in the months just past. And thanks too to all those who have supported Tom as he's prerpared for Young Horticulturist of the Year, especially employers Southern Woods.

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Young Achiever 2015 Finalists

30-Jun-2015
A special day has been set aside for this year's Young Achiever competition. The two finalists, Tom Ferguson from Southern Woods Nursery Canterbury, and Ben Jones from Lyndale Nurseries Auckland, will compete against each other on Friday 17th July at Growing Spectrum nursery in Kihikihi.

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Jacqui Jones - 2014 Young Achiever

11-Jul-2014
The HortFertplus Young Achiever title was claimed by Jacqui Jones from Evandale Gardens, Invercargill. Jacqui was put through her final paces having to perform practical industry tasks as well as a final presentation in front of a packed conference audience. She will go on to represent the Nursery & Garden Industry in the Young Horticulturist of the Year competition.

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2014 Young Achiever Finalists

6-Jun-2014
Three entrants were assessed by the judges (Carol Fraser, Helen van der Werff, Pip McVicar, Trina Tully and Rhys Gibbs) and attended Conference to compete in a round of activities to determine the winner.

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New First Lady of Horticulture

15-Nov-2013
Long a male domain, horticulture's most coveted title fell to the new First Lady of horticulture last night. 2013 Young Achiever of the Year Kelly Jean Kerr, of Springvale Garden Centre, Wanganui took out the title of Young Horticulturalist of the Year 2013

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Kelly Jean Kerr - 2013 Young Achiever

30-Jun-2013
At Queenstown's June conference our four finalists were put through their paces - Congratulations to Kelly Jean Kerr - 2013's HortFert Young Acheiver.

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Daniel Chong - 2012 Young Achiever

20-Dec-2012
The 2012 HortFert Young Achiever Award was presented to Daniel Chong, the 24 year old Production Foreman at Rainbow Trees nursery in Auckland. Last year, Daniel was runner up in this competition and was encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive comments from industry colleagues to enter again. In accepting his award, Daniel urged other young people in the industry to enter, saying the personal growth and career benefits were huge.

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Daniel did us proud

18-Dec-2012
Daniel Chong, HortFert's Young Achiever 2012 came up trumps at the Young Horticulturist of the Year competition. While not placed in the overall competition, Daniel's speech was adjudged best - in three minutes he summarised the characteristics that our industry leaders need to face the challenges ahead.

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Our Young Horticulturist Finalist

14-Oct-2012
Daniel Chong, HortFert's Young Achiever 2012 is competing in the Young Horticulturist of the Year competition, representing the Nursery and Garden Industry. Daniel, 22, is Production Foreman at Rainbow Trees, South Auckland.

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2019 Award



Ezra Alexander


Rico Mannall


Jacob Rados


The trophy













2018 Award


Devin Westley 2018 Young Achiever
Devin Westley 2018 Young Achiever

Devin Westley 2018 Young Achiever
An award first - Devin takes a selfie on stage!