Three outstanding young leaders awarded NZ Young Farmer prestigious Excellence Awards

Posted by on 8 December 2017 | Comments

A mental wellbeing advocate, a Prime Minister's Award winner and a DairyNZ high flyer have been announced as NZ Young Farmers 2017 Excellence Award winners.

In only it's second year the award recognises the outstanding young leaders among our midst and is open to Young Farmer members.

Methven based, 27-year-old Sam Robinson has made a significant impact in the mental health and wellbeing landscape for rural youth this year, after he bravely shared his own struggles.

The Lincoln University student courageously outlined his struggle to live in a Facebook post this year, which set in motion a positive chain of events that led to young people speaking up more and NZ Young Farmers taking a leading role in highlighting and working on the issue.

An over-achiever, Sam has battled depression since his late teens but is now using his experience to help others and is speaking to health bodies. One day he hopes to do a TED talk on the subject and is considering setting up a blog as a forum for him and others to share as he seeks more transparency and inclusiveness on the issue.

Also from Methven, PGG Wrightson agronomist, Sarah Tait is an outstanding young leader who initiated the 'Empty Plate Project' to encourage young people into the agri-food sector.

Targeted at 5000 students in Canterbury, Sarah invited students to submit for a competition, a project describing global food security and what New Zealand's part was to play in it.

The 26-year-old  spends a lot of time talking in schools, and has been identified as a future leader. In 2015 she was selected to represent New Zealand at a Food Security Conference in Canberra and she has also been awarded a Prime Minister's scholarship that enabled her to travel to Colombia.

Passionate about Latin America and the role the New Zealand agri-food sector could play there, she is currently completing her Masters, which is centred around primary industry opportunities for NZ in Latin America.

The third excellence award winner, Zach Mounsey, from the Hamilton City Young Farmers Club, has numerous achievements and awards to his name including studying some of the world's most complex issues as an MPI New Zealand delegate to Argentina in 2015.

The 27-year-old holds an equity stake and is the sharemilker on the family farm, but has excelled as a strategist and economist in varied roles inside the dairy industry.

Now the technical assistant to DairyNZ CEO Tim Mackle, Zach has also held roles in public trading and finance at Fonterra.

His leadership abilities have been to the fore from an early age, and included him taking up the position of Sharemilkers Section delegate of Federated Farmers in Otorohonga/King County before going on to become chair, while at University.

He is also a Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme graduate and in 2015 he was chosen to the New Zealand delegate to the Global Youth Agriculture Summit.

NZ Young Farmers CEO Terry Copeland said the three were 'outstanding' in their fields and showcased the wide variety of talents required in the agri-food sector today.

"We are extremely proud of the role our organisation continues to play in developing the primary industry's next leaders. Sam, Sarah and Zach are examples of the diversity of skills, culture and talent we aim to develop and we are delighted they are recipients of the Excellence Awards."

About the NZ Young Farmers Excellence Awards:

2016 was the first year the Excellence Awards were awarded.

They are a prestigious acknowledgment of outstanding endeavor, leadership and commitment and recognise the future leaders of our Primary Industry.

Winners are showcased in the organisation's magazine and among industry sectors and are awarded trophies at a prestigious VIP function to acknowledge their tremendous achievement.

 2017Excellence Awards winners 3