Geraldine High School student named Aorangi TeenAg Member of the Year

Posted by on 2 October 2019 | Comments

A stroke of luck seven years ago has put a Geraldine student on a path to becoming an arable agronomist.

Ben Chambers, 17, is about to embark on his final set of exams at Geraldine High School.

The Year 13 student has been secretary of the school’s thriving TeenAg club for the past two years.

Last week he was named TeenAg Member of the Year for the Aorangi region.

“It was a bit of a shock. I’m quite a humble person, so it’s hard for me to talk about winning the award,” said Ben.

He received the accolade at a ceremony in Timaru.

Ben has been raised in town. He got interested in agriculture by chance in 2013, when he was in Year 7.

“I was asked to fill a spot in an AgriKidsNZ team. That sparked my passion and got the ball rolling from there,” he said.

The talented trio made it to the national grand final of the agricultural competition in Auckland.

Ben went on to join Geraldine High School’s TeenAg club, which has 44 members.

“The thing I like most about TeenAg are the opportunities to learn about the food and fibre sector,” he said.

“I’ve competed at two FMG Junior Young Farmer of the Year grand finals and it’s a fun way to meet people.”

“Being secretary of our club has taught me a lot of time management skills which will come in handy,” he said.

Ben has been part of his school’s Primary Industries Academy since he was in Year 11.

“It’s nationally recognised and has helped me build my skills, knowledge and qualifications,” he said.

“I’ve done work placements on a dairy farm and a deer farm.”

Ben plans to study a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at Lincoln University next year.

Prior to then, he’s landed a summer job making silage for Hayden Mackenzie Contracting.

“I start in late November after my exams and work through until the end of January,” he said.

“It will be a great way to see a bit of South Canterbury and earn some money before going to university.”

Ben credits teacher Sarah Foley-Smith, who oversees the school’s TeenAg club, with helping him achieve his goals.

He wants to work as an arable agronomist for PGG Wrightson or Carrfields once he’s graduated.

Ben has worked part-time in PGG Wrightson’s Geraldine store for the past three years.

There are 12 TeenAg clubs in the Aorangi region, which are run by NZ Young Farmers and funded by the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP).

The clubs are designed to inspire high school students about career opportunities in the food and fibre sector.