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‘Scary’ floods inspire scholarship winner to improve rural climate resilience

Lincoln University student, Ryan Redpath, has been announced as this year’s recipient of Ravensdown’s Hugh Williams Memorial Scholarship.

Several days with no contact to his home in Gisborne convinced Ryan he wanted a career that would improve the ability of farms to deal with natural disasters.

Ryan, 18, is starting his second year of study towards a Bachelor of Agriculture and Commerce at Lincoln University and will use the scholarship to help fund course fees and travel between university and the family farm in rural Gisborne.

After Cyclone Gabrielle hit his parent’s sheep and beef farm in February last year, Ryan wants to focus his studies on how the sector can increase its resilience to weather events.

“I was a week into university when Cyclone Gabrielle hit the Gisborne Region. I couldn’t contact home for a while which was a bit scary.”

“It had a massive impact on our rural community. A lot of people lost effective land and tracks throughout their farm.”

“I think it’ll become more important to diversify farm income streams that give off-farm income outside the usual stock profits. Finding different ways to diversify will ensure we can keep farming into the future.”

Garry Diack, Ravensdown CEO, says it was Ryan’s academic excellence and dedication that won him the scholarship.

“Agriculture is under increasing pressure, from global supply chain disruption to climate events. It’s great to see the new thinking coming through from students like Ryan, and we’re proud to be able to support him in his studies.”

Ryan says winning the Hugh Williams Memorial Scholarship was a big deal.

“The scholarship will take pressure off the financial side of things and make it easier to get back to Gisborne and help on the farm during the study breaks.”

“Growing up on the farm, I was always interested in agriculture. Dad was a big influence and invested a lot of time to teach me how to do things the right way,” says Ryan.

Ryan says his agriculture teacher at Napier Boys’ High School, Rex Newman, helped develop his interest into a passion.

“Rex supported me and the other boys, and inspired us to stick with the subject. He helped set goals and worked hard with us to achieve them.”

In his last year of school, Ryan sat NCEA scholarship for agriculture and horticulture, and placed second in the country.

Ryan says his courses at Lincoln are helping him work out where he wants to be in the future.

“I’m definitely keeping my options open, but I’m keen to use my skills to help farmers, like in rural banking or as a field representative.”

Before going back to university this month, Ryan is getting more farm work under his belt.

“I’m working on farm during the week but take time during weekends for hunting or crutching to earn more money. I’ll still be playing club rugby this year, so looking forward to that.”

The scholarship offers $5,000 per year for a student studying agriculture or horticulture at Lincoln or Massey universities for the duration of their studies. In addition, the recipient may also be offered paid holiday employment with Ravensdown if a position is available.

 

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