At a time where concerns are arising with regard to environmental issues and sustainability, food safety and country of origin, and fair trade and labour shortages, the Rabobank Agri-Leadership Program aims to inspire leading high-school students to get into the primary industries.
As part of the program, 23 mostly-year 11 students gathered at University of Waikato for four days of industry learning and leadership coaching. Waikato is known predominantly for its dairy and red meat sectors -but one example of truly out-of-the-box thinking was Zealong Tea Estate, who hosted the group one morning to explore various opportunities available to young people who want to pursue a career in the field.
Zealong’s Marketing Executive, Annalese Webber, said she was encouraged by the participants’ eagerness to learn and think creatively. “Once they learnt about what is involved in making tea, before it gets to your cup, and the opportunities we have here in New Zealand, they really engaged with the process,” she said.
Inspired by Zealong’s experience in producing tea, she said the examples and opportunities explored included industry innovation, adding value, new product development, and complementary industries, and could also be applied in other primary industries.