As many university students are complementing the hard yards over textbooks with the Bay’s summer sun, sand, and surf, Ashley Clements has been undertaking valuable work experience at ZESPRI International Limited.
Ashley, one of the eight recipients of the 2009/10 ZESPRI Horticultural Scholarships, is undertaking tertiary studies at Massey University. The former Bethlehem College student is in her first year of studying a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Agricultural Science and Biochemistry.
During her time at university, Ashley has stayed in regular contact with ZESPRI’s Communications Coordinator, Nicky Geary, updating her on her academic results and university life. With the mid semester break in close sight she mentioned to Nicky that she was interested in work experience in the kiwifruit industry.
“I kept in close contact with Nicky and when I expressed my interest in being involved in the kiwifruit industry over the mid semester break, I was offered the opportunity to undertake work experience at ZESPRI,” she says.
This work experience has found Ashley learning about the different departments of ZESPRI from communications to planning and supply.
“The highlight was working alongside the technical team. I got involved in different on-orchard trials, collected samples from the orchards, then presented and analysed data on a few of the trials. This was incredibly relevant to my tertiary studies.”
As the chills of winter draw closer and the days grow shorter, Ashley will return to university with new knowledge and understanding obtained during her time at ZESPRI.
“It was a real eye opener to the vast opportunities available in the kiwifruit industry, from working alongside growers in the orchards, to developing marketing plans to promote ZESPRI Kiwifruit overseas. I have enjoyed myself and learnt a lot during my time at ZESPRI. This experience has made me more motivated to make a difference in the primary industries of New Zealand, especially the kiwifruit industry,” Ashley says.
Nicky says investing in the education of young people keen to pursue a horticulture career is key to the future success of the kiwifruit industry.
“There is a huge variety of exciting opportunities for focussed young people to contribute to the future of the New Zealand Kiwifruit industry. As New Zealand’s biggest horticultural exporter, supporting people like Ashley will be crucial to the future of the industry,” she says.
The ZESPRI Horticulture Scholarship programme aims to encourage secondary school leavers to pursue a tertiary qualification and career in horticulture. Each year, ZESPRI offers scholarships, valued at $3000 each, to high calibre secondary school students who intend to study full-time for a degree or diploma in horticulture-related field at a New Zealand University or Polytechnic. Applications for the scholarship open on 1 September 2010.