TeenAg leadership course helps hone Northland student’s cadetship goal

Posted by on 23 April 2019 | Comments


Northland student Devlin Gurr wants to land a coveted cadetship at Smedley Station in Hawke’s Bay.

“It’s quite prestigious. They only accept 11 cadets each year, so it’s really hard to get into,” said Devlin.

The 16-year-old has spent the start of the school holidays honing skills he’ll need to help land the two-year cadetship.

He was one of 15 students – half were from Northland - selected to attend a three-day leadership programme in Rotorua. 

“I found it extremely rewarding and beneficial,” said the Whangarei Boys’ High School student.

“The sessions on sharpening your interview skills and building an eye-catching curriculum vitae (CV) were really useful.”

“Making your CV stand out is more than just listing your skills and experience,” he said.

Devlin Gurr sits in a Fonterra milk tanker.Students were taught how to set goals, communicate confidently, manage their time and think critically.

The course called Raising the Standards was run by NZ Young Farmers and funded by DairyNZ. 

It was designed to enhance the skills of emerging leaders within high school TeenAg clubs. 

“The aim is to increase students’ awareness of opportunities in the primary industries while helping to hone their leadership skills,” said Mary Holmes from NZ Young Farmers.

“They learned about different graduate programmes, the wide range of agri-related scholarships on offer and how some agri-businesses encourage secondments overseas.”

Students heard from numerous guest speakers, including agri-business bankers, consultants, an agronomist, a dairy farmer and a vet.

The group toured Fonterra’s dairy factory in Reporoa, which produces a highly nutritious product used in hospitals for sick patients called sodium caseinate.

“It was really interesting. It was eye-opening to see that there’s more to the dairy industry than milking cows,” he said.

“I knew there were other jobs in processing and research, but not on the scale we saw.”

A highlight of the course for Devlin was developing new networks and meeting students from other TeenAg clubs.

“I met a guy who lives 20 minutes down the road from me. We go to different schools and didn’t know each other before the course,” he said.

“We’re already discussing how we might be able to help each other out.”

Devlin lives on an eight hectare lifestyle block with his family and works part-time on a dairy farm and Angus cattle stud at Waiotira.

He plans to start breeding his own easy-calving Angus herd.

“I’m focusing on Angus cattle which are short gestation with low birth weights,” he said.

“I already own a heifer and I plan to buy another eight to 12 animals from the stud where I work over the next few weeks.”

Devlin, who’s in Year 12, will be attending one of the open days at Smedley Station in June

Last week’s leadership course was attended by students from Whangarei Girls’ High School, Dargaville High School, Okaihau College and Huanui College.

It was the first of three planned across New Zealand this year. 

TeenAg clubs are a key part of the work being done by NZ Young Farmers to attract students into the agri-food sector.